It wasn’t the blow-out most fans wanted/expected, and might have taken a few minutes longer than the team/coaches had hoped, but the Blackhawks once again emerged with a victory on Friday night.
After jumping out to the early lead last night in St. Louis, the Hawks found themselves on the other end of the margin; Columbus jumped out to a 1-0 lead on Vinny Prospal’s seventh goal of the season.
Not surprisingly, the game was tied late in the first period by Columbus-killer Viktor Stalberg. One second after a Hawks powerplay expired, Stalberg established good position in front of the net and put a loose puck home. Brandon Saad was credited with the primary assist on the play, giving him helpers in two straight games and points in three of his last five contests.
In the second, Columbus took the lead again. Artem Anisimov, who had a fantastic game for the Blue Jackets, scored his fifth of the year. Anisimov was the best player on either roster at the dot, winning 12 of 17 draws in the game.
But, once again, the Hawks came back to tie. This time, Patrick Sharp banked a shot in from a tough angle.
Only 59 seconds later, Bryan Bickell read a lazy pass and took it to the house. Bickell now has points in three of the last four games and was credited with five hits and a takeaway against Columbus.
Unfortunately, the Hawks didn’t hold onto the lead an finish in regulation. Ryan Johansen tied the game with his first goal of the year, and the game sprinted into ovetime.
With less than a minute left in regulation, coach Joel Quenneville showed a great deal of confidence in his third line of Stalberg, Bickell and Andrew Shaw by sending them out in a tie game. That group has been fantastic over the last couple weeks; in the last five games, that line has combined to score six goals with three assists.
Brent Seabrook capped a strong performance with the game-winning goal off a gorgeous feed from Jonathan Toews at 3:23 in overtime. Seabrook’s stat line in the game was huge: eight hits, three blocked shots and the game-winner in a team-high 26:41 of ice time.
Toews left the bench briefly late in the game, but didn’t miss much time. He won 10 of 18 faceoffs in the game, but finished minus-one for the night; he and Marian Hossa were on the ice for the Blue Jackets first two goals.
In net, Ray Emery stopped 19 of 22 shots to stay perfect on the season. Corey Crawford, who left the game in St. Louis on Thursday night, was healthy enough to serve as the team’s back-up against Columbus.
There were two fights in the game. Sheldon Brookbank dropped the gloves with Nick Foligno in the first, and Daniel Carcillo was challenged by Nikita Nikitin after putting a big hit on Fedor Tyutin. Carcillo skated only 13 shifts in the game, but managed to be minus-two.
Through Friday night, the Blackhawks have now extended their historic streak to 21 games to start the 48-game season without a regulation loss. They travel to Detroit on Sunday, when Marian Hossa will play his 1,000th NHL game.