The Blackhawks second point streak of the season was snapped against the Blue Jackets on Thursday night in a roller coaster of a game in which the Blue Jackets scored twice in the final three minutes to pull off a stunner. Redemption is the only thing on the minds of the Blackhawks as they host the Blue Jackets for a rematch at the United Center Saturday.
The Blue Jackets are flying high after playing spoiler to the Blackhawks and winning their second game in a row. They managed to keep the Blackhawks to their third lowest shot total of the season and just six high-danger shot attempts at 5-on-5. Offensively, Cam Atkinson led the way with a four-point night (1 G, 3 A) with help from Jack Roslovic, who scored twice against the Blackhawks.
Speaking of Roslovic, he’s been thriving in Columbus since he and Patrick Laine were traded in exchange for Pierre Luc-Dubois. Roslovic has nine points (4 G, 5 A) in eight games with the Blue Jackets and is currently on a six-game point streak — the longest of his career. Laine has been productive as well with four points (3G, 1 A) in five games, but he’s also been involved in some early drama with coach John Tortorella, having been benched for the entire third period against the Hurricanes. Laine seemed to be back in the coach’s good graces as he played the most minutes among forwards on Thursday.
The Blue Jackets will also be getting a boost with the return of defenseman Zach Werenski. At practice on Friday, Tortorella said that Werenski will be “good to go” Saturday after missing a handful of games with a lower-body injury. Joonas Korpisalo is expected to be in net for his sixth straight start and is 2-0-0 with a .897 save percentage against the Blackhawks this season.
Despite finally generating goals at 5-on-5, the Blackhawks had one of their worst performances of the season statistically, allowing a season-high shots on net and their second worst expected goals percentage. This was also the first regulation loss for the Blackhawks when leading after two periods. The Blackhawks have been too reliant on their special teams prowess and surprisingly excellent goaltending from the duo of Kevin Lankinen and Malcolm Subban, so the bough breaking wasn’t unexpected. Hopefully, the Blackhawks will rebound with a more structured gameplan and their signature resilience.
To be fair, the game wasn’t without bright spots. Rookie defensemen Ian Mitchell and Nicolas Beaudin both scored their first goals in the NHL; Kubalik and Kurashev continue to have outstanding chemistry; and the top line of Alex Debrincat, Pius Suter, and Patrick Kane had one of their best outings this season. The power play also continued to be strong and the Blackhawks have now scored with the man advantage in 13 of 15 games. Although the overall team performance is still a work-in-progress, the youth movement is right on track.
The Blackhawks are still without top defensemen Connor Murphy and winger Andrew Shaw, and the loss was definitely felt in the last game. Murphy’s absence was especially noticeable on the penalty kill — which allowed two goals on three opportunities — while Shaw’s absence is felt as much in the locker room as on the ice since he’s stepped into an official leadership role with Jonathan Toews’s out long-term. The Blackhawks will need to step up as a team to will the void left by these two players on and off the ice.
Reese Johnson will draw in with Madison Bowey being assigned to the taxi squad, as the Blackhawks are apparently going back to the traditional lineup of 12 forwards and 6 defensemen. Wyatt Kalynuk was skating on the third pairing with Nicolas Beaudin, so there’s a chance he could make his NHL debut on Saturday.
Lankinen officially starting for Blackhawks.— Ben Pope (@BenPopeCST) February 13, 2021
Reese Johnson in, Madison Bowey out. So back to 12F/6D.
Tale of the Tape
Blackhawks — Statistic — Blue Jackets
46.01% (30th) — Corsi For — 46.61% (28th)
46.30% (26th) — Expected goals for — 44.73% (29th)
2.93 (17th-T) — Goals per game — 2.93 (17th-T)
3.00 (18th) — Goals against per game — 3.27 (23rd)
47.2% (25th) — Faceoffs — 46.4% (29th)
36.2% (3rd) — Power play — 17.1% (19th)
80.0% (18th) — Penalty kill — 75.8% (22nd)
Projected lineups (subject to change)
DeBrincat — Suter — Kane
Janmark — Strome — Kubalik
Hagel — Soderberg — Kurashev
Highmore — Kampf — Johnson
Keith — Mitchell
de Haan — Carlsson
Zadorov/Kalynuk — Beaudin
Laine — Roslovic — Atkinson
Domi — Stenlund — Bjorkstrand
Grigorenko — Texier — Jenner
Foligno — Nash — Robinson
Werenski — Jones
Del Zotto — Savard
Gavrikov — Peeke
How to watch
When: 7 p.m.
Where: United Center, Chicago
TV: NBC Sports Chicago, Fox Sports Ohio
Live stream: NBC Sports app, NHL.TV