COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Blackhawks felt a little bit of rest, something that’s been hard to get in this frenetic lockout-shortened season, would get them sharp again after two consecutive losses. On Thursday, they were.
Johnny Oduya tallied his first goal of the season and Patrick Kane had the shootout winner as the Blackhawks beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 2-1 at Nationwide Arena. With the victory, the Blackhawks maintain a six-point lead atop the Western Conference.
[HIGHLIGHTS: Hawks complete season sweep of Blue Jackets]
Corey Crawford stopped 29 of 30 shots through regulation and overtime, as he and the Blackhawks’ defense had strong nights. Kane also collected the 400th point of his career with his assist on Oduya’s goal.
The Blackhawks weren’t sweating their two-game losing skid, considering the start they had. Still, they wanted to reverse a few trends, including that brief losing one.
“It’s a way better feeling in here when we win,” Kane said. “[Columbus] is a good team, especially compared to last year. Obviously it was a tight checking game. For us to get a win is big for the confidence.”
The Blackhawks are 4-0-0 against the Blue Jackets this season, but all have been one-goal games. And while they didn’t get off to the most scintillating start, the Blackhawks got back to what put them on that 24-game unbeaten streak: responsibility with and without the puck, strong defense and solid goaltending. The Blackhawks had 15 blocks as a team; Duncan Keith, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Dave Bolland had three apiece.
“It was a good win, a hard game,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “We got better as the game went on. We had some good looks in the third and it was an exciting overtime. It’s always nice to win, and I like how we got back on track here tonight.”
Still, Sergei Bobrovsky was doing his best to deny the Blackhawks. Bobrovsky stopped 39 of 40 for the Blue Jackets, who got a point in their ninth consecutive game, a franchise record. Oduya was the first to crack him, taking a pretty pass from Kane to give the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead with 3:15 remaining in the second period.
“That’s always nice to get that out of the way,” Oduya said of his first goal this season. “You try not to think about it too much but it’s always nice to have that one, at least.”
The Blue Jackets answered quickly, however, as Jack Johnson tallied a power-play goal 52 seconds later to knot it at 1. The two played an exhilarating overtime, which featured great scoring chances on each end.
Kane did his patented slow-down move en route to beating Bobrovsky with a backhand in the shootout. Derick Brassard had Columbus’ tying attempt, but Crawford poke-checked it away for the victory.
“I think at the end of the game, as the play started going back and forth, our guys were able to bear down and score two for me, which is nice,” Crawford said. “OT was pretty exciting. Guys had some good opportunities. Like I said, we were able to bear down in the shootout. We were just trying to get back to our game and a full 60 minutes.”
The Blackhawks didn’t need to be fancy or over the top returning from their three-day break. They just needed to return to the simple, efficient hockey that got them off to their hot start. That, as well as the legs, lungs and energy, returned on Thursday.
“We had a couple of tough periods in the last two games. Finding ways to get points again was important for us,” Quenneville said. “We started the trip in a positive way, which we were hoping to do."
Daniel Carcillo was a healthy scratch on Thursday. … Jonathan Toews had a team-high seven shots against the Blue Jackets. … Kane has at least one point in 21 of his 27 games this season.