The Blackhawks hosted the Columbus Blue Jackets in their first game after the trade deadline. While the Hawks were pretty content to mantain the status quo, the Blue Jackets made some last-minute low-key trades, mainly to shore up their defense. Unfortunately for the Blue Jackets, their new roster additions were unable to do much against the Hawks, who were looking to stay near the top of the Central Division and critically in need of two points after losing to the Colorado Avalanche in the previous game a couple days earlier.
Brandon Bollig tipped one in past Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky to open the scoring. The Blue Jackets responded a few minutes later with a wrist shot from Ryan Johansen. It looked like Corey Crawford initially stopped the puck with his chest, but he was unable to get the glove on it before it bounced up and over his shoulder into the net. For a while in the first period, with a tie game and low shots on goal, it seemed as though it was going to be another one of those games . . . but then came Andrew Shaw to the rescue, and the Hawks regained the lead 2-1 going into the first intermission.
The second period is really where the magic happened. The Hawks lit up the Blue Jackets, who never found the back of the net again. First a wrist shot by Jonathan Toews about 8:00 in, then another by Bryan Bickell a few minutes later. After the Bickell goal, Bobrovsky got the boot. When all was said and done, last year’s Vezina trophy winner and Olympic goalie for Team Russia – in net during the epic shootout against Team USA – only posted a .778 SV% (14 saves on 18 shots). Backup goalie Curtis McElhinney did not fare much better, letting in another two goals (one each from Shaw and Toews) for a .867 SV% (13 saves on 15 shots).
With the win against Columbus, the Blackhawks pick up another two points to stay in second place in the Central Division and third in the league – trailing the Anaheim Ducks and the St. Louis Blues by four and two points, respectively, and staying one point ahead of the Avs. However, both the Ducks and the Avs have a game in hand; the Blues have two. It is going to be a very tight race to the finish, so the Hawks need to make sure they are winning on a consistent basis. The next game is on Monday against the Sabres, and we would certainly think and hope that the Captain and his crew can defeat them as easily as they did the Blue Jackets!