After a few days off, the Blackhawks took to Columbus tonight, falling to the Blue Jackets, 3-2, in a shootout. It's the 'Hawks first loss in their last 14 games against the Jackets, and just their second since the conclusion of the Circus Trip.
The 'Hawks dominated possession for most of the game, outshooting Columbus 41 to 19. They outshot the Jackets 15-3 in the first period, but failed to score. Former 'Hawk Jack Skille found a gift next to an open net, putting the Jackets up 1-0 in the first in spite of their low shot count.
Patrick Sharp scored to tie things up in the second period. It's the winger's first even strength goal of the year, which comes as a bit of a shock, especially given that he led the team in scoring last season. His extended time on IR in November definitely plays a role in this one, but it's still surprising.
Columbus took a 2-1 lead early in the third on a goal from Kevin Connauton. The 'Hawks were able to tie it up with about 11 minutes remaining in the game, as Ben Smith put one home right in front of the net after an interesting sequence involving Marcus Kruger sliding into the feet-first without his stick.
The first four rounds of the shootout were scoreless, with both goalies standing tall and refusing to make the first move. Former 'Hawk Jeremy Morin was able to solve Corey Crawford, but Andrew Shaw answered. Crawford made a few more impressive saves before Jack Johnson beat him, winning the game for Columbus.
This is a tough loss to swallow for the 'Hawks, a they dominated most of the game, but just couldn't seem to solve Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovski. Bob made 39 saves on 41 shots in an impressive game from the former Vezina Trophy-winner. The 'Hawks have beaten, even embarrassed, elite goalies on more than one occasion past, but tonight was not one of those nights.
The power play was another rough spot for the 'Hawks, who were 0-4 with the extra man. They didn't have many good scoring chances on the power play, either. It's a continued struggle for the 'Hawks, who haven't managed many goals with the advantage in recent games.
Again, tough one to swallow, but the 'Hawks have a chance to bounce back quickly, as they take on the Toronto Maple Leafs tomorrow night at home, with puck drop scheduled for 6:00 p.m. CT.
Three Stars of the Game
3. Patrick Sharp
Sharp had another solid game after returning form a lower-body injury last week. He earned his first even strength goal of the season, and also generated a lot of shots on goal. He had 7 of the 'Hawks first 26 shots. You can't help but think that if he was in the top-6 he'd be scoring more, but with the team's recent run of success (tonight notwithstanding) it's hard to break up the current top-6. But then again, it's hard to complain when you have a goal scorer like Sharp on your third line, so I won't beg too much.
2. Corey Crawford
In his first game back from injury, Crow was as solid as ever. I find it hard to pin either Columbus goal squarely on Crow's shoulders, as the first one involved some bad defense from the 'Hawks, and the second he just couldn't see at all. He was great for most of the shootout as well, only falling victim to 2 of 8 CBJ shooters. It's more solid play from the 'Hawks #1, who has been great in net this season. Perhaps we'll see him in net tomorrow, in order to get him some more time after coming back from injury, though I doubt it.
1. Brent Seabrook
Seabrook was fantastic on the defensive side of the puck all night. He stopped a few 2-1's and breakaways, while also making some nice passes to get out of the zone. He did have a few passing blunders, including one that led to a breakaway for Ryan Johansen, but his good defensive play outweighed the few mental mistakes. He's been playing really well of late on both sides of the puck, so hopefully that will continue, and he will get even better. He has proven himself key to the 'Hawks success in the past, and is solidifying that this year.