Blackhawks equal best start ever
COLUMBUS, Ohio — After painting masterpieces in their first four games, the Blackhawks broke out the crayons as they went in search of some history.
Their 3-2 victory Saturday night over the struggling Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena wasn’t very picturesque, but nevertheless the Hawks matched the franchise record for victories to start a season as they improved to 5-0-0.
“It definitely wasn’t our best game but we’re going to have nights when maybe we’re not clicking like we have been,” said Jonathan Toews, who scored the game-winner early in the third period. “We got caught flat-footed a few times. It doesn’t matter who we’re playing, we have to be better prepared than that.
“We knew they were going to come hard in the first period and we didn’t come out well in the first 10 minutes … (but) we found a way to win.”
The Hawks equaled the 1971-72 club’s mark as Dave Bolland and Bryan Bickell also scored. Patrick Kane added two assists as the Hawks concluded a two-game trip and are now 4-0-0 away from home.
It’s the mark of a good team when it can win on off nights, and that’s what the Hawks proved as they came out sluggish and remained that way through much of the night. If not for goalie Corey Crawford’s solid effort the Hawks would not be looking for victory No. 6 when they face the Red Wings on Sunday night at the United Center.
“Finding ways to win is important,” Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “You’re not going to be great or your best every night. You have to commend Columbus. They were the harder-working team than us but (we got) key saves. Crawford was really big for us.”
After Mark Letestu put the Blue Jackets in front in the first period, Crawford held his ground before the offense slowly began to chip away. Kane continued his strong start when the winger raced into the Blue Jackets zone and, as he was upended, got a shot off that Mason saved. Bolland swooped in and knocked in the rebound to tie it. The assist gave Kane at least one point in every game this season.
In the second, Bickell redirected a Niklas Hjalmarsson long shot past Mason, who only could watch helplessly as the deflection sailed over his shoulder.
The Blue Jackets (1-3-1) appeared to tie it a short time later but referee Dan O’Rourke said Nick Foligno bumped Crawford before the winger tipped the puck across the line.
Kane, Toews and Marian Hossa worked a little magic to help the Hawks take a 3-1 lead. Hossa forced a turnover in the Blue Jackets zone, Kane corralled it and fed a wide-open Toews that the captain finished off. Artem Anisimov’s late goal made it close but the Hawks held on.
“They came out strong but we stuck with our game and we were able to come back and help out defensively,” Crawford said. “Offensively, we were just waiting for our chances.”
By Chris Kuc, Tribune Reporter