It wasn’t their best game of the year, but the Hawks earned the victory Sunday night as they defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-1. Goals by Patrick Sharp and Martin Havlat keyed the come-from-behind win, and goaltender Cristobal Huet made 31 saves to earn points in his fifth straight start.
“Not all of the games are pretty,” said Havlat, whose third-period goal proved to be the game-winner. “We didn’t play well in the first period. [But] in the second and third, we did exactly what we were told to do in the dressing room. That’s why we won.”
The Blue Jackets scored their only goal of the game early in the first period, a screened Fredrik Modin wrist shot with just one minute and 35 seconds elapsed in the game. Despite not coming out in top form, the Hawks managed to hold Columbus to just the one goal in the first, including an impressive save by Huet on a Rick Nash breakaway late in the period.
Sharp put the Hawks on the board with a power play goal in the second which deflected off of Columbus goalie Steve Mason, getting the tally with just .4 seconds left in the period.
“Not too many guys would have stayed in there and made that play,” said Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville. “We got a fortunate bounce. Little plays like that really complement our game.”
Havlat’s go-ahead goal, with a great assist from defenseman Duncan Keith, gave the Hawks the lead in the third.
“I feel like [Havlat] and I have some chemistry out there,” said Keith, who had two assists on the night. “He’s a great player and you want to get the puck into his hands.”
Huet was sharp in the victory, stopping 31 shots and killing the lone Columbus power play. He’s won four of his last five starts, and has allowed only two goals in his past three games.
“Huet certainly was excellent tonight,” Quenneville said. “He’s had two effective games against Columbus; he’s the reason why we won both games. He’s got some confidence, and goaltending’s been a strength for us all year. It continued again tonight.”
The Hawks begin a three-game road trip in western Canada before taking some time off for the Christmas holiday. Quenneville said the trip will be a challenging one, going against three solid opponents in Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver.
“It will be a fun trip for us,” he said. “It’s a good test playing those teams up there. They’re all teams that are in the same pack that we’re in and they will all be meaningful games.”
The Hawks visit Edmonton on Tuesday night. They won their only meeting this season against the Oilers on October 22, a 3-0 shutout in Chicago.