The Blackhawks took to the ice Tuesday night in their fifth meeting of the season with the Columbus Blue Jackets. Kevin Lankinen made his third consecutive start, while Connor Murphy returned to the lineup after missing the previous six games due to injury.
The Blackhawks went the first five minutes of the game without a shot on goal but followed that up with a shooting frenzy. They finished the period with 17 shots on goal while only allowing five.
Almost halfway through the opening frame, the Blackhawks went to their first power play of the game. Offseason acquisition Carl Soderberg parked himself in the blue paint and buried a rebound to give the Blackhawks the game’s first lead.
The Blackhawks have scored at least one power play goal in 16 of their 20 games this season. Their 21 goals on the man-advantage are tied for most in the NHL.
Under two minutes later, the Blackhawks extended their lead to two when Pius Suter and Patrick Kane capitalized on a Columbus turnover. Mattias Janmark made a heads-up play to keep the puck in at the blue line leading to Suter and Kane being all alone with the Columbus netminder. Suter fed Kane who, as we all know, does not miss from there.
The Blackhawks dominated the first period and went into the first intermission with a 2-1 lead, but it did not last long. In the first minute of the second period, Soderberg went to the box and sniper Patrik Laine beat Lankinen to tie the game at 2 goals apiece.
Hard Work Finally Pays Off
Not everything about a “rebuilding” year is bad. With more rookies in the lineup, it means more first career goals.
With the game tied at two, Brandon Hagel worked his way to the front of the net and finished off a pass from Kane to give the Blackhawks a one-goal lead.
If anyone was due for a goal, it was Hagel. In his 16 games before Tuesday night, Hagel had 22 shots on goal and more than a handful of quality scoring chances. As Blackhawks fans everywhere lept from their couches, teammate Patrick Kane showed much of the same emotion seeing his rookie teammate pot his first career goal.
But, as with most rebuilds, inconsistency is to be expected.
As would happen a few more times in the game, the Blue Jackets found a way to answer back quickly. Boqvist wound up in the box for an interference penalty and Laine beat Lankinen once again from the left circle to tie the game at three.
With under five minutes to play in the middle frame, the Blackhawks won an offensive zone face-off and ran a play to perfection that culminated in a Dominik Kubalik one-timer. Kubalik now has six goals on the season, and his 16 points trail only Kane and DeBrincat for the team lead.
Third Period Woes
Early into the third period, the Blackhawks extended their lead to two when Boqvist scored his first goal of the season on the power play. In his last three games since returning to the lineup, Boqvist has looked confident and was finally rewarded on the scoresheet.
The Blackhawks were unable to hold onto their two-goal lead as the Blue Jackets scored twice in the final ten minutes of regulation to force overtime. Both goals came off the stick of Oliver Bjorkstrand, one on the power and the other an even-strength goal that Lankinen would like back. It was the second time the Blue Jackets erased a two-goal deficit in the game.
After an eventful overtime period that saw Lankinen stop a breakaway as time expired, Alex DeBrincat was the lone goal-scorer in the shoutout to give the Blackhawks the win.
The Blackhawks are now 10-6-4 and have 24 out of a possible 40 points.
Carl Soderberg logged one goal and two assists in the game. He now has six points in his last five games. Playing the majority of the season so far in a bottom-six role, Soderberg has also found himself on the power play. He uses his big 6-foot-3 frame to cause havoc in front of the net and was able to cash in tonight for his third goal of the season.
Nikita Zadorov had one of his best games as a Blackhawk. In 22:08 of ice time, Zadorov recorded four shots on goal, two hits, and was on-ice for just four shots against at even strength. While this is Zadorov’s seventh season in the NHL, he is just 25 years old and still has room to grow. If this game is any indication of what he can become on a nightly basis, it bodes well for the Blackhawks.
What’s On Tap Next?
The Blackhawks stay in Columbus and play the Blue Jackets again on Thursday at 6:00 PM CT. It will be the sixth meeting between the two teams, with the Blackhawks holding a 3-2 head-to-head advantage. Tune in to the Four Feathers Podcast for further postgame commentary.