The crowd was roaring on every play, each side kept piling up scoring chances and goaltenders Corey Crawford and Sergei Bobrovsky were trading breath-taking stops.
After a wildly entertaining overtime, though, the Chicago Blackhawks got back to their winning ways.
Patrick Kane set up Johnny Oduya’s goal late in the second period and then got the decisive score in the shootout, leading the Blackhawks to a 2-1 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday night.
”It was pretty intense,” Kane said of the end-to-end extra minutes. ”There were 13 shots total for both teams. It was a pretty interesting overtime, obviously. The goalies made some great saves, and it was definitely back and forth.”
Crawford stopped 29 shots to help the Blackhawks end a two-game losing streak after they set an NHL record by getting at least a point in each of their first 24 games.
If there was relief in ending a mini-skid, so be it.
”We had some great chances to score in overtime, but their guy (Bobrovsky) came up with some huge saves the whole game long,” Crawford said. ”We just stuck with it and our guys made two nice goals there in the shootout.”
Jack Johnson scored the tying power-play goal for Columbus 52 seconds after Oduya put Chicago ahead, and Bobrovsky finished with 39 saves for the Blue Jackets, who set a franchise record by picking up a point in their ninth game in a row (5-0-4).
That was little consolation to coach Todd Richards, however.
”Whether it’s our goaltender or us playing well as a team, we’re in games,” he said after his team’s eighth overtime in its last nine games. ”We’re competing and battling. We’re getting a point, but we need two points.”
A crowd of 15,009, including a large percentage of Chicago fans, gave both teams a lengthy standing ovation after an overtime in which the teams swapped scoring chances in a blizzard of offensive moves – followed by outstanding work by the goalies.
Columbus’ Artem Anisimov and Chicago’s Jonathan Toews each scored to open the shootout. After Crawford stopped Ryan Johansen, Kane moved in slowly on Bobrovsky and then lifted a backhander into the net. Crawford then stopped Derick Brassard’s attempt before he could even unleash a shot.
The Blackhawks came away impressed with the Blue Jackets, who had the worst record in the NHL last year but came into the night only three points out of the final playoff spot in the West. Chicago won all four meetings in the season series – each by one goal.
”They’ve been playing really well lately,” Kane said. ”They’re a good team, especially compared to last year. It was a good fight for us.”
With the score tied at 1 in the third, the Blackhawks turned up the heat and dominated play in the opening minutes.
Bobrovsky made yet another big save when a ricochet ended up on the stick of Brandon Bollig just right of the cage. A prone Bobrovsky gloved the shot from 12 feet away in a play that will show up on the highlight reels.
Moments later, Crawford fought off a rising wrister by Anisimov to keep the score tied.
The Blackhawks, 11-1-0 coming in when scoring first, took the lead at 16:45 of the second, thanks to a spectacular set-up pass from Kane. From near the end of the right blue line, he saucered a pass through two defenders all the way across the ice to the left circle to Oduya who was racing to the net. The defenseman settled the puck and then beat Bobrovsky high on the stick side.
The goal broke a 39-game drought for Oduya. It was also Kane’s 400th career point (140 goals, 260 assists in 426 games).
”He has the puck a lot and he’s a threat,” Quenneville said of Kane. ”He was dangerous a lot tonight.”
Not long after Sheldon Brookbank headed for the penalty box for holding, the Blue Jackets evened it with a power-play goal.
Brassard won a faceoff in the circle to Crawford’s right, with the puck sliding to the high slot. Johnson stepped into a hard one-timer for his fourth of the year.
The Blackhawks sounded happy that they wouldn’t be seeing the Blue Jackets again this season.
”Each game against them has been pretty tough,” Crawford said.
NOTES: Just before the game, the Blue Jackets reassigned C Nick Drazenovic to their AHL affiliate in Springfield, Mass. … During the first break early in the game, the Blue Jackets’ move to the Eastern Conference (along with Detroit) next year was heralded on the center-ice monitors. … The Blackhawks began a four-game road trip that will also take them to Dallas, Colorado and Anaheim. .. Columbus’ previous mark of eight games in a row with points (4-0-2-2) came from Jan. 15 to Feb. 6, 2009.