The Blackhawks and the Blue Jackets did not disappoint on Friday night, offering up a hotly contested, entertaining match-up of two of the NHL’s top three teams; both vying for the President’s Trophy and a top seed in the playoffs. Brandon Saad returned to the UC for only the second time since signing with Columbus but was quiet, while Sergei Bobrovsky, the likely Vezina Trophy winner and possible Hart candidate, was strong in goal, stopping 21 shots in the loss, which dropped Columbus to third place in the league, one point behind the Blackhawks. The Hawks played a solid game and look to continue to build on their win tonight as they close out the season next week.
Within seconds of puck drop the Hawks went to the power play after Brandon Dubinsky was sent to the box on a cross-check. Artemi Panarin took a pass from Patrick Kane off of a Jonathan Toews face-off win, scoring his 27th goal of the season and taking the Hawks to a very early 1-0 lead. Brent Seabrook drew a tripping penalty at the 7:31 mark of the period, sending the Columbus to the man advantage. The Jackets power play, 0 for 13 in their last eight games, proved anemic and the the score remained 1-0 as the clock wound to the midway point in the period. Both teams continued to fire pucks at the net and the play became more physical as the period wore on.
A strong shift by the Toews line lead to a Hawks power play when Kyle Quincey was sent off for a cross-check at 14:08. The Hawks were unable to get any sustained zone time during the power play and came away empty with 3:52 remaining in the period. As the sides returned to full strength, Columbus’ Boone Jenner was sent off for roughing, while the recipient of his hit, Ryan Hartman, was sent off for embellishment. 4 on 4 hockey ensued and Nick Foligno tied the game off of a Hawks turnover. 22 seconds later the Hawks regained the advantage as Marian Hossa buried the puck off of a beautiful pass from a streaking Patrick Kane and gave the Hawks a 2-1 lead. SOG were 11 to 9 in favor of the Blue Jackets.
A scuffle at the end of the first period resulted in a penalty on Foligno, sending the Hawks to the power play at the start of the second period. Chicago enjoyed much more zone time on this power play opportunity yet were unable to convert. Swift back-and-forth hockey ensued with both goalies fending off shots in spectacular fashion. As the clock rolled through the 10:00 mark, both teams continuing to put pucks on net. Both Panarin and Marcus Kruger put strong shots on Bobrovsky only to be turned away by the league’s number one goalie.
Jordin Tootoo was sent to the box at 13:54 for high sticking and the Blue Jackets, down a goal, went to work in the Hawks zone. The Hawks turned in a strong kill and held on to their one goal lead as the period wound to a close. In an attempt to prevent a breakaway, Johnny Oduya was called for holding and the Jackets went on the power play with 34 seconds remaining in the period. The Jackets failed to convert and the score remained 2-1 in favor of Chicago. SOG were 19 to 17 in favor of Columbus.
The Blue Jackets continued on the power play as the third period began but were shut down by a strong Hawks kill. Two back-to-back saves by Crawford as the penalty expired kept the Hawks lead intact. Both teams seemed to up the energy in the first five minutes of the period with Bobrovsky also making some huge saves to keep his team within one.
Niklas Hjalmarsson took a delay of game penalty at 9:15 in the period sending the Jackets to the man advantage for the third straight time. Another strong kill by the Hawks, coupled with 10 saves in the period by Crawford preserved their one goal lead with half the period to play. The final six minutes of the game featured tight defense by the Hawks. Bobrovsky was pulled with 1:40 left in regulation, and with 43.9 seconds to play, Panarin put the puck in the empty net to give the Hawks a two goal lead and the victory.
SCH 3 Stars
- Marian Hossa (1 goal/gwg)
- Artemi Panarin (2 goals)
- Patrick Kane (3 assists)
The Blackhawks will face-off against the Boston Bruins at the United Center on Sunday at 11:30 a.m. CT.