The Blackhawks scored the first goal on Friday night.
The Blue Jackets scored five of the next six, chased Corey Crawford, and embarrassed the Blackhawks on their home ice.
Brandon Saad got the Hawks on the board less than four minutes into the game, but the lead lasted only 41 seconds.
Cam Atkinson’s first goal of the night gave Columbus a 2-1 lead in the middle of the opening period, but Jonathan Toews redirected a Duncan Keith shot past Sergei Bobrovsky to bring the game to a 2-2 tie.
Toews goal would be Chicago’s last of the night.
Columbus would score two more in the 4:08 following Toews’ goal, and Chicago coach Joel Quenneville removed his starting netminder. Crawford allowed four goals against 13 shots in 15:46 but got very little help in his time on the ice.
The game-winning goal from Kevin Connauton shows in the box score that it was unassisted, but he received a flawless feed from Duncan Keith. Two of the Jackets’ three other first period goals came on breakaways, including a short-handed tally for Atkinson’s second of the opening 20 minutes.
From there, the Blackhawks stymied the Jackets offense until Atkinson finished his hat trick with an empty net goal in the closing minutes. Unfortunately, when you allow four goals in the first period and only score two, breaking even isn’t good enough.
Making matters worse, Niklas Hjalmarsson appeared to suffer a hand/wrist injury with roughly three minutes left in regulation. He left his stick and glove on the ice and attempted to skate to the bench, but Columbus got another rush up the ice that required Hjalmarsson to stay in the play in spite of the injury.
Losing Hjalmarsson would be catastrophic for the Blackhawks at this point.
Chicago’s power play continued to be a dumpster fire, failing on five “advantages” on Friday night. They had a few good looks, including a Keith shot hitting a post in the closing seconds of the second period, but weren’t able to convert.
To his credit, Scott Darling played a strong game in relief. He stopped all 13 shots he faced, including a couple great glove saves to keep the game (theoretically) close in the third.
Toews also won 15 of 20 faceoffs, while Brad Richards and Kimmo Timonen led the Blackhawks with four hits each. Meanwhile:
After the first period ended, Quenneville predictably threw his lines into the blender. Antoine Vermette spent some time skating as a wing with Toews and Hossa, and Teuvo Teravainen moved back to the dot. Teravainen won four of five faceoffs and put three shots on net in the game.
Brent Seabrook led the Hawks with three blocked shots and picked up three hits as well, but finished the night minus-four. Saad finished tied with Marian Hossa for the team high of four shots on net, but failed to pull the trigger on three would-be scoring chances in the third period.
Newly signed defenseman Mike Paliotta was in attendance, and may be pressed into service given the struggles of the Hawks’ blue line group and potential injury to Hjalmarsson. Kyle Baun may get the chance to be a needed catalyst up front as well given the lack of production coming from some of the Hawks veterans.