Viktor Stalberg posted his first career hat trick and the Blackhawks rolled the Blue Jackets.
Overall, this was the game the Hawks had been hoping to see against a Columbus team in their first game with a new coach and without Jeff Carter (again). In every way, the Hawks had a strong statistical game.
The Hawks have now won all four meetings with Columbus by three goals, and Stalberg has seven goals against the Jackets in those four games. He also established a career high with his 25th point this season on the third goal.
Dave Bolland got the Hawks on the board with his third short-handed goal of the season, and Ben Smith scored what proved to be an important goal just 27 seconds after Stalberg’s second tally. Smith extended the Hawks’ lead to 4-1, but the Jackets scored less than two minutes later to draw back to within two goals.
Despite a scary moment when he was hit in the side of the head early in the first period, Jonathan Toews rebounded to have a typically-strong performance. He won 11 of 15 faceoffs, one assist and three takeaways.
Brent Seabrook had a good game as well, finishing with one assist, two blocked shots, one takeaway, a plus-three rating and tied for the team lead with four hits. Who was Seabrook tied with for the team high in hits? Two rookies: Andrew Shaw and Jimmy Hayes.
Hayes skated over 16 minutes and was credited with a blocked shot with his four hits. He also skated over three minutes on the new-look power play.
Shaw, meanwhile, also blocked one shot and skated an impressive 3:29 short-handed. The Blackhawks killed all five of the Jackets’ power plays on the night.
Joining Hossa at plus-three were Seabrook and Sean O’Donnell, who carried the burden of Steve Montador’s 19 penalty minutes to a strong performance of over 17 minutes of ice time. Nick Leddy, who has struggled lately, was held to just 15:03 in the game.
Bryan Bickell’s descent to the bottom of the bench continued. He skated only 10 shifts in the game, accounting for a team-low 6:44 on the ice. He was credited with an assist and one hit in the game, but his ice time in a blowout is a clear indication that his fan mail is being forwarded to Joel Quenneville’s doghouse.
Corey Crawford left a lot of fat rebounds, but his numbers at the end of the night were impressive. He allowed just two goals against 35 shots by Columbus.