The Blackhawks and Blue Jackets both entered Friday night looking to extend their point streaks.
Unfortunately, it was the Blackhawks' run that was snapped, falling 2-1 while scoring just once for the second time in three games.
The first period was the definition of low-event hockey with the teams combining for only seven shots on goal.
The Jackets opened the scoring at 8:53 in the first period with a power play goal from Oliver Bjorkstrand. Mattias Janmark tried to poke check the puck out of the zone, and David Kampf over-skated the blue line likely looking for a breakaway chance, and a few seconds later, the puck ends up in the Blackhawks net.
The Blue Jackets got their second of the game less than five minutes into the second when Eric Robinson broke away from the Blackhawks defense and beat Lankinen to the glove side.
After going down 2-0 to start the second, the Blackhawks picked up the pace and drew two penalties as a result. Dylan Strome capitalized to make it a 2-1 game. Joonas Korpisalo made two strong saves on Dominik Kubalik, but the Blackhawks maintained possession and Strome eventually roofed the puck into the net.
Strome was one of the best Blackhawks of the middle frame, both in terms of quality passes that set up Kubalik and his own scoring chances.
It wasn’t always pretty, but the Blackhawks coverage was better in the second as well. Even when there was a mistake, defenders adapted quickly to keep the game within reach, like Nicholas Beaudin's kick-block halfway through the frame.
The third period saw the line blender activate and it was more scrambly than the the first 40 minutes. Luckily, Lankinen was there to keep the Blackhawks in the game. He made back to back saves on Nick Foligno and Bjorkstrand then denied a breakaway attempt by Robinson — all in about a two-minute span.
Stayin alive thanks to Lankinen! pic.twitter.com/BM8VdeckJC— Second City Hockey (@2ndCityHockey) January 30, 2021
Despite a push from Chicago in the final five minutes of the game, the Blue Jackets and Korpisalo shut down the Blackhawks and they fell 2-1.
- This was the second-best game for the Blackhawks in terms of shot metrics and scoring chances, especially through the first two periods, when they owned 63 percent of the shot attempt share and had 12 of the 16 high-danger scoring chances (which are based on location).
- Korpisalo was a wall and allowed only one goal on 32 shots for a .969 save percentage. Lankinen had another great showing as well, stopping 25 of 27 shots for a .926 save percentage.
- The Blackhawks power play got back on track after failing to capitalize on seven opportunities in a row. Hopefully the 5-on-5 scoring will start clicking soon, but until then, they’re going to need the power play to hold off on regressing.
- Speaking of the powerplay, Andrew Shaw might not show up on the score sheet much, but most of the first unit’s goals wouldn’t be possible without his net-front presence. It’s something the Blackhawks sorely missed last season.
- Although the penalty kill allowed the low-scoring Jackets to score early, it rebounded nicely the rest of the game. Personally, I don’t mind the PK being aggressive and making mistakes occasionally as a result, but I did like that they tightened up afterwards.
- The Blackhawks opened the third period with adjustments to the top two lines — Soderberg slid up to play between Janmark and Kane while Suter took over as left wing with Kubalik and Strome. I’m sure this was to reward Soderberg for his good game through two periods, but the team lost momentum in the third after dominating shot metric possession up until then. Not a great adjustment, unfortunately.
- Beaudin and Mitchell had impressive games. Beaudin made a few excellent defensive plays throughout the game, including the one shown above, while Mitchell took a lot of initiative in the offensive zone. Mitchell was so close to scoring his first NHL goal (though ironically, he almost scored an own-goal for the third straight game). This type of progress is exactly what we want to be seeing out of these young players.
- Much was made of Strome’s faceoff abilities the last couple of season, but he’s off to good start and had another strong game at the dot. He won 10 out of 16 faceoffs tonight and is at 52% for the season so far.
- Kane played over 25 minutes for the second straight game. Maybe it’s time to go back to twelve forwards, eh?
- Joonas Korpisalo (CBJ) — 31 saves on 32 shots
- Oliver Bjorkstrand (CBJ) — 1 goal, 1 assist
- Dylan Strome (CHI) — 1 goal
The Blackhawks remain at home and face the Blue Jackets again on Sunday night at the United Center for a 6 p.m. start