The Blackhawks overcame a tough start and won 3-2 in overtime against the Blue Jackets Friday at the United Center.
Robin Lehner kept Chicago in it with 37 saves. Jonathan Toews scored the overtime winner for his first goal of the season, Patrick Kane picked up two assists and Alex DeBrincat added a power play tally and an assist.
Chicago improves to 2-2-1 behind a stellar performance by Lehner and a penalty kill that went 4-for-4.
How it happened
The Blackhawks didn’t start off well. In the first period, they let the Blue Jackets get off to a hot start, and the early shot count was 6-1 Columbus. Chicago slowly caught up, but it was Lehner standing tall that allowed them to stay in the game.
Own zone turnovers were a problem early, as the Blackhawks had four in the first period (three from defensemen) and they weren’t able to get the puck out of their own zone.
But when they eventually did, Drake Caggiula scored on a knucklepuck that was deflected off a Blue Jackets defender and bounced off the crossbar before going in.
The Blackhawks proceeded to completely mismanage a 5-on-3 power play after Patrick Kane drew a tripping call and Alex DeBrincat was slashed. Blackhawks need to pass less on the power play, and, y’know, shoot the puck once in a while.
The Blackhawks would get zero goals on both power play opportunities. That turned out to be a problem as Pierre-Luc Dubois would muscle the puck away from Connor Murphy in his own zone later in the second period and make it a tied game.
Throughout the first 40 minutes, the Blackhawks would surrender the neutral zone ice far too often and let Columbus take control of possession within the Chicago zone with ease. The Blackhawks, when they drove to the opposing zone, looked sloppy, and passes wouldn’t connect. That is something Chicago will need to address, as the Blackhawks had their sloppiest game, despite, perhaps, the first game in Prague.
The Blackhawks also need to be more disciplined, as both Andrew Shaw and Robin Lehner took penalties to end the second period. Shaw’s was an unnecessary interference call as he hit Dubois away from the puck and Lehner took a tripping minor after miscommunicating with Duncan Keith. The Blackhawks penalty kill stepped up big against Columbus and didn’t allow a power-play goal against in this game,
The Blackhawks allowed a goal to Markus Nutivaara in the early third period, and that would put the stress on the Blackhawks to score again to even up the score.
Chicago was fortunate that the Blue Jackets opted to start Elvis Merzlikins, who came into this game with a .825 save percentage, and they still weren’t able to get enough good pucks on net to take advantage of that fact. Many of the Blackhawks’ best chances went high or wide, but that’s still something that needs to change moving forward.
The Blackhawks got life breathed back into them as Alex DeBrincat scored a power-play goal to tie up the game at 2 before the third period was halfway done. Shaw, redeeming himself from his earlier penalty, drew the penalty that enabled the goal.
That turned out to be the spark the Blackhawks needed to push this game to overtime, as they had not played well enough to get the clean win, but they gave themselves another chance with a fresh start at 3-on-3 hockey, and Toews scored on a Kane rebound to give the Blackhawks their second win of the season.
Despite all the sloppiness and undisciplined play, the Blackhawks snuck out a victory. Thanks, Robin.
1. Robin Lehner (CHI) — 37 saves
2. Alex DeBrincat (CHI) — 1 goal, 1 assist
3. Markus Nutivaara (CBJ) — 1 goal
The Blackhawks host the Capitals at 6 p.m. Sunday at the United Center.