Kevin Lankinen was back between the pipes on Friday as the Blackhawks hosted the Columbus Blue Jackets in the only game on the NHL calendar. Opposing him was one of his long time friends and workout partners, Joonas Korpisalo.
So, which netminder would… Finnish?
It was a relatively big night for the Jackets franchise, however. John Tortorella was behind the bench for his 400th game as the head coach of the Blue Jackets. So, you know, there’s that nugget of information.
Columbus came in without Patrik Laine, who is still recovering from an injury and hasn’t dressed for the Jackets yet. Columbus played at home on Thursday night as well.
Chicago, on the other hand, rolled out the same lineup they had for Wednesday night’s game in Nashville. Coach Jeremy Colliton stayed with seven defensemen and 11 forwards for a second straight game.
Columbus did the Blackhawks an early favor. Dylan Strome drove the net and was tripped by Liam Foudy, who was sent to the box to think about his actions for two minutes. Unfortunately, Foudy had two full minutes to consider his error because the Hawks failed to score on the power play.
With 12:13 left in the first period, Philipp Kurashev returned the favor and gave Columbus their first power play of the night. Unlike the Hawks, the Blue Jackets made their advantage count. Oliver Bjorkstrand scored 66 seconds into the power play to give Columbus an early 1-0 lead.
Through 20 minutes of hockey, the two teams had seven total shots on net – combined. A few were quality chances, but this game was not exactly lighting up the scoreboard by any means. Indeed, there were only 11 total faceoffs in the first period.
Noticeably, Ian Mitchell skated 1:07 on the Hawks’ first period power play. He was at 5:18 in the period and exchanged words with Max Domi late in the period.
Chicago blocked four shots in the first period and Lankinen stopped two of the three that made it to the net. Columbus blocked seven shots in the first period while Korpisalo stopped all four he faced.
Right after the Blackhawks had a decent chance in front of the net, Eric Robinson got a breakaway and sniped a shot past Lankinen. It was a shot Lankinen really needs to stop, but it got past him and the Jackets had a two-goal lead 3:39 into the second period.
Less than 30 seconds after the Robinson goal, Seth Jones went to the box to give the Hawks another power play.
The Jones penalty ended without the Hawks doing any damage, but the shots were starting to pick up for both sides. When Alexandre Texier went to the box at 9:47, the Blackhawks attacked.
Chicago got a couple good shots at the net and finally broke through. Strome was credited with his third of the season exactly 60 seconds into the advantage and Columbus’ lead was cut in half.
Calvin de Haan went to the box for a couple minutes less than 60 seconds after the Strome goal and things were starting to happen quickly on both ends of the ice. Well, everything except scoring.
Both sides continued to get pucks on net and both goaltenders were up to the task. When the horn sounded to end the period, there was an exhale form those tracking shots.
After the two sides combined for seven shots on net in the first period, Chicago out-shot the Jackets 19-12 in the second period. Unfortunately they only put one into the net and trailed by one heading to the third.
The Blackhawks’ young defensemen had a solid second period. Lucas Carlsson, Nicolas Beaudin and Mitchell were all noticeable at times for strong defensive play. At one point, Colliton sent Mitchell and Beaudin out together for a defensive zone faceoff.
Mitchell had three shots on net in 10:23 through two periods, tied with Duncan Keith for the most shots on net on the Blackhawks.
The shots on goal weren’t as frequent early in the third but the pace of play didn’t slow down at all.
Columbus had a long shift in Chicago’s zone eight minutes into the third period, but what was noticeable was a pretty strong, sustained battle all over the place between Mitchell and Foudy. The two battled against the boards until Mitchell kicked the puck away. Then, when Foudy tried to post up in front of Lankinen, Mitchell did his best to push him away from the net. Mitchell kicked a shot attempt clear as well.
Columbus started to carry the action more as the third period continued, but Lankinen was playing exceptionally well again. After allowing a soft goal for the Jackets’ second marker, Lankinen locked it down and was on point.
When the clock crossed six minutes left in regulation the Blackhawks started putting together some sustained pressure in the Jackets’ zone. With 3:12 left in regulation the puck found Kane right in front of the net attacking and Korpisalo made a ridiculous save. Absolutely brilliant play by Columbus’ netminder.
Beaudin was playing very well in the third. He almost set up Kane for a good scoring chance just before the play that was stopped by Korpisalo.
With about two minutes left in regulation, Carl Soderberg had a great chance on a rebound. Unfortunately, his shot went through the five hole and missed just wide of the net.
Lankinen went to the bench with 65 seconds left in the third.
The Hawks couldn’t beat Korpisalo with the extra attacker and the game ended with a regulation loss for Chicago.
The Hawks’ five-game point streak ended.
Kane skated 27:14 and put six shots on net. He had a few great chances but Korpisalo was insane. Mattias Janmark was getting more run with the Hawks only dressing 11 forwards. He finished the night with one shot on net in 20:06.
Lankinen finished the night with 25 saves against 27 shots.
All seven defensemen for Chicago were credited with at least one blocked shot. Mitchell finished the night skating 15:17.
Korpisalo made 31 saves in the win and was clearly the star of the night.