What started off as a fast-paced beating of the home Blue Jackets turned into a game near the end of the first period Saturday afternoon in Columbus.
The Blackhawks and Blue Jackets came out of the gate quickly, with each team taking turns at odd-man rushes. As is common in such frenetic games, the third forward – and often, too, the off-side defenseman – would commit on the offensive side of the ice before an odd-man rush would result on the other.
Through twenty minutes, the Hawks had the advantage with three goals and three posts past Jackets’ goalies Steve Mason. Andrew Ladd, Troy Brouwer and Marian Hossa had the goals, while Dustin Byfuglien, Ladd and Patrick Sharp hit posts. The Hawks second goal, scored by Brouwer, came when Patrick Kane skated past Fedor Tyutin like he was standing still to a loose puck in the Blue Jacket zone. Kane backhanded a pass in front to Brouwer, who decided to try something different and hit the net.
The Blue Jackets used the frantic pace to their advantage and turned the game around in the second, scoring two goals in the first seven minutes. Goals came from Kris Russell and Rick Nash. The Nash goal, which was his second of the game and gave the Blue Jackets their only lead of the day, came on a 4-on-4 break that Colin Fraser and Ham Sandwich turned into a 1-on-1 between Nash and Cristobal Huet when a stickless Sandwich stepped into the middle of the ice – leaving his side of the ice – to take the twig Fraser was offering. Nash didn’t miss after he received the cross-ice pass from Hawk killer Kristian Huselius.
The Hawks would get their bearings, though, and the game would slow down. Jonathan Toews scored on two separate beautiful wrist shots in tight quarters over the shoulders of Mason during the final frame, but a fourth line tally notched by Ben Eager gave the Hawks the lead again. Eager’s goal came thanks to some sustained pressure by the line and a nice feed from Fraser at the side of the net.
The Blue Jackets threatened late, with Raffi Torres scoring with just over two minutes left to cut the lead to one, but it wasn’t enough.
Make it one win in one try during the Hawks’ most lengthy road trip of the year.
Next up: the Detroit Red Wings tomorrow afternoon.
Just Listen Up, Would Ya?
– The Feather men hit the United Center ice along with other season ticket holders this morning. We got in and out in time to make it back to the Northwestern suburbs by game time.
As it was last year, the “Exclusive Road Watch” was a well-run event. Attendees had opportunities to tour the Hawk dressing rooms and the upstairs press areas, as well as to skate the UC ice. We skated and took a quick ganders at the dressing room. In the end, I turned down the $50 dare to strip down to a jock strap in the dressing room and start signing autographs for kids.
– Eddie O’s School of Interviewing began a new session Saturday afternoon. As always, students are taught Eddie’s unique interviewing tactics. His style: tell the interviewee to “just talk about something”; then, before the interviewee has an opportunity to do so, Eddie talks about that certain something, essentially negating the first portion of his “question”; finally, Eddie, realizing that he’s negated the first portion of his “question,” tells the interviewee to “just talk about something” that is related in someway to, but different than, the first thing. Spring classes start Tuesday in Ottawa.
– The Hawks defensemen were, for the most part, all over the place during the game. The forwards were rarely much help in the defensive zone either. Given the up-and-down pace, it’s understandable, but they’ll have to tighten up – especially if they expect to win in other teams’ buildings during the end of this month.
– Cam Barker returned from his absence. He was fine.
– Patrick Kane continued his torrid pace. He had three assists, giving him 55 points in 48 games.