Going into Thursday’s matchup with Columbus, the Blackhawks were on a three-game win streak while outscoring their opponents 10-6.
Connor Murphy missed his second straight game due to a right hip injury and Andrew Shaw was also out of the lineup as he was placed on injured reserve earlier in the day. Kevin Lankinen made his tenth start of the season.
The Blackhawks controlled much of the play early in the first period. They were outshooting Columbus six to three when the Jackets took their first penalty of the game.
20 seconds into the man advantage, it was the Jackets who scored the game’s first goal. It was the first short-handed goal the Blackhawks had allowed this season. The Blackhawks outshot the Jackets in the opening frame but trailed by one going into the second.
First NHL Goals Are Cool and Tough
Rebuilds in hockey are not preferred by teams themselves nor the fans. At times it can be difficult to watch a team with young players learning the ropes of the NHL game, but there are moments to appreciate.
30 seconds into the middle frame, Ian Mitchell gave us one of those moments.
David Kampf weaved his way through the offensive zone and found Mitchell on the back door where he tapped in his first career NHL goal.
As per usual, Duncan Keith made sure he grabbed the puck to have the equipment managers wrap it with tape and date it for the young defenseman as a piece of memorabilia.
The tape came in handy just 56 seconds later when Nicolas Beaudin scored his first career NHL goal to give the Blackhawks a 2-1 lead.
It marked the first time two members of the Blackhawks scored their first NHL goal in the same game since Mario Doyon and Jeremy Roenick did it in 1989.
Suter Scores, Again
Like he has done all season, Lankinen made timely saves to keep the Blackhawks ahead midway through the game. The Blackhawks were outshooting the Jackets 16-15 when Pius Suter scored into a wide-open net to extend his team’s lead to two.
Suter now has six goals on the season to lead all NHL rookies.
The Jackets drew within one with 36 seconds left in the period when Jack Roslovic buried a one-timer from the top of the circle on the power play.
Heading into the second intermission, the Blackhawks were ahead 3-2 and still had over a minute left on the power play to start the third.
Once again, the Blackhawks scored right out of the gates to start the period. Alex DeBrincat won a puck battle in the corner and found Kane alone near the right dot. Kane doesn’t miss from there. It was 4-2 Blackhawks.
Jackets Outscore Hawks 3-1 in Final 15 Minutes
Five minutes into the period, Matthew Highmore was called for a penalty and the Jackets capitalized to make it a one-goal game. The Blackhawks were getting outshot 7-3 in the period when the Jackets scored their second goal in three minutes to tie the game at four.
With six minutes left, Kane and DeBrincat connected once again to regain the lead. It was DeBrincat’s seventh goal of the season and Kane’s 12th point in his last seven games.
Trying to secure their fourth win in a row, the Blackhawks finally saw their rookie goaltender let pucks leak through him. The Jackets scored two goals in the final three minutes, with the game-winner beating Lankinen five-hole.
The Blackhawks are now 6-5-4 on the season with 16 out of a possible 30 points.
Before tonight’s goals from Ian Mitchell and Nicolas Beaudin, the Blackhawks had just three goals from their defensemen this season. This depth scoring will go along way as the Blackhawks’ top-six forwards have been finding the back of the net often as of late.
The Blackhawks’ top line of Pius Suter, Patrick Kane, and Alex DeBrincat combined for seven points tonight. As a line, the trio outshot their opponents 8-3 and outscored them 2-0. Possibly even more impressive, the line only allowed one scoring chance while on-ice at even strength.
What’s On Tap Next?
The Blackhawks and Blue Jackets are back in action for the series finale on Saturday night at 7:00 PM CT at the United Center. Tune in to the Four Feathers Podcast for further Blackhawks analysis and commentary.