Back on track, Hawks try for two straight vs. Jackets
BLACKHAWKS (30-21-7) at BLUE JACKETS (17-34-6)
TV: CSN-CH, FS-O
Chicago 1-8-1; Columbus 4-6-0
The Blackhawks and Blue Jackets clash for their fifth of six meetings on Saturday at Nationwide Arena. Chicago has taken the first four head-to-head matchups by a convincing 20-8 margin. In their last meeting on Jan. 10, Viktor Stalberg
notched a hat trick to power the Hawks to a 5-2 win over their division rivals at United Center. Stalberg has registered the game-winning goal in three of four meetings with Columbus this season, and has scored 7 of his 15 goals in those three outings.
Two days after ending a nine-game skid, the Blackhawks eye a second straight victory when they collide with the Blue Jackets in the Buckeye State. Chicago torched Martin Biron for four goals in the first 9:38 Thursday and ultimately earned a 4-2 win over the East-leading New York Rangers to snap their lengthy skid. Columbus, meanwhile, has had three days off following a 2-1 home victory over the St. Louis Blues.
Chicago's offense set the tone for a much-needed victory as Jonathan Toews
, Nick Leddy
and Patrick Sharp
scored in the game's first four minutes, but Corey Crawford
was also a key contributor in the Hawks' first win since Jan. 20. Crawford was 0-4-1 in his previous five outings, but registered his best showing in weeks by stopping 22 of 24 shots. The Hawks held off the Rangers despite mustering only 22 shots, and now have a chance to string together consecutive wins as their nine-game road trip comes to a close Saturday in Columbus.
"Everyone feels good about how well we played," Crawford told the Chicago Tribune. "It seemed like everyone was going hard, playing the right way and making the right plays. We got the puck out of the zone when we needed to and our top guys came out flying and scored at the right times at the beginning."
Columbus put forth one of its most impressive performances of the season in Tuesday's win over the division rival Blues -- who sport the NHL's fourth-highest point total. Derek Dorsett scored 6:49 into the third period and Steve Mason held his ground during a frenzy in front of the net in the final seconds of regulation to secure the win.
The final sequence came down to video review, but officials disallowed a goal after it was confirmed that St. Louis forward David Perron gloved the puck into the net. The ruling put an exclamation point on a resounding victory for Columbus in front of their home fans.
"I thought it was one of our best 60-minute performances of the year," coach Todd Richards told NHL.com. "I thought our battle level was great. We got contributions from everyone tonight. I'm real happy with our guys, the way they showed up and the way they competed."
Who's Hot: Marian Hossa
has 2 goals and 1 assist for Chicago in his last two contests. … James Wisniewski, who scored in the first period of Tuesday's win over the Blues, has accumulated 2 goals and 2 assists for Columbus over three games since returning from a 17-game absence due to an ankle injury.
Injury Report: Daniel Carcillo
(knee surgery) will miss the remainder of the season for Chicago. Steve Montador
(upper body) is also on injured reserve for the Blackhawks. Niklas Hjalmarsson
(upper body) is unlikely to play Saturday in Columbus. … Radek Martinek (concussion) will miss the rest of the season for the Blue Jackets. Curtis Sanford (back), Kristian Huselius (lower body), Nikita Nikitin (knee), Brett Lebda (thumb), Marc Methot (broken jaw) and Jared Boll (foot) are also out of the lineup for Columbus.
The Blackhawks are ranked 26th in the League in penalty kill conversion percentage (78.7), but Chicago's unit denied all seven of New York's power play opportunities in Thursday's win.
"We stayed together, stayed close," Toews told ChicagoBlackhawks.com after his team snapped its longest stretch without a win since 2006-07. "No pointing fingers. We'll look back and hopefully realize it made us better."