As has been the case the last few times the Blackhawks have visited Columbus, defensive responsibility went by the wayside and both teams took turns giving the opposition golden opportunities.
As has been the case their last few meetings in Columbus, the Blackhawks also came out on top. The Jackets simply don’t have the firepower to trade chances with the Hawks – they certainly don’t have anyone better than Jonathan Toews- and it was no different this time. Even with Columbus staked to a 3-2 lead early in the 2nd period, Toews took over.
Viktor Stalberg catapulted a 3-on-2 and left a drop pass to Toews as he entered the offensive zone. Toews drew both Jacket defensemen to him and slid a back-hand pass to a wide open Stalberg on the doorstep to tie the game. Eight minutes later, Toews stripped a Jacket defenseman naked and fed a streaking Patrick Kane who buried a one-timer through Steve Mason. For his encore, Toews outworked one Jacket for a loose puck, then in one motion, made a toe-drag past another Jacket to spring himself on a breakaway. He fired his patented five-hole blast to give the Hawks all the cushion they would need.
Even in a third period where Marty Turco saw more shots than he needed, the Jackets never really threatened. Dave Bolland’s goal pretty much sealed the much needed two points.
—For as dispensable as Nick Boynton is, he’s equally indestructible. Boynton helped put the Jackets in front with a 3-2 lead when he screened Marty Turco beautifully and took the puck right off his mouth. While most players would need medical attention, Boynton didn’t miss a shift. Not sure if that’s a good or bad thing.
–Viktor Stalberg scored his second goal since November 14th. It would be really nice if he’d find the back of the net with a little more regularity. I thought a really timely moment came right after he scored the equalising goal and Joel Quenneville rewarded Stalberg and Skille with a shift with Toews. Toews sprung Stalberg on a 3-on-2 but he was unable to convert on a golden opportunity.
On Toews’ next shift, he set up Patrick Kane with a solid scoring chance, and Kane buried it. It’s kind of unfair to compare Stalberg to a former 1st overall pick, but that’s the biggest difference between a legit 1st line winger and a guy.
–It’s probably been forgotten by now, but Marty Turco made his biggest save of the game with the score tied 3-3. Jakob Voracek got out of the penalty box and had a clear breakaway. Against one of Columbus’ few skill guys, Turco stood his ground and made a real solid save to keep the score even.
–Brent Seabrook was a monster. He left a trail of bodies not seen this side of Liberia. He assisted on both of the Hawks short-handed goals (though Hossa’s was an empty net) but still ended up an even 0. It didn’t hurt that Duncan Keith was buzzing around all over the ice and finally found the back of the net again. The goal was his first since January 19th. It goes without saying, a great 2nd half from them, hell even a good one, and the Hawks will have home-ice advantage in the first round.