Beating bottom-feeding Blue Jackets might be just what Hawks needed
By Adam L. Jahns firstname.lastname@example.org November 10, 2011 10:40PM
Jonathan Toews battles the Blue Jackets’ James Wisniewski for the puck on Thursday night. | Jamie Sabau~Getty Images
at BLACKHAWKSe_SFlbThe facts: 7:30, CSN, 720-AM.
Updated: February 26, 2012 7:08PM
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Victories against the lowly Columbus Blue Jackets are nothing to gloat about or rest your laurels on these days. But for the Blackhawks, who had fallen in a little rut, one right now could be a good anecdote in helping them return to form.
The Hawks did what they’re supposed to do and then some against the Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena on Thursday. Nearly everyone got involved, whether it was on the rush or on the power play, in a 6-3 rout of Columbus.
Jonathan Toews scored twice and had an assist, Patrick Kane converted on a partial breakaway and Marian Hossa banged in a loose puck, while Steve Montador and Andrew Brunette also got into the mix, adding long overdue power-play goals.
“Both teams were hungry to get back on the horse,” Toews said. “We knew it wasn’t about what they do as a team. It was more about us getting back to the way we play. It was an important win for us, so we’ll use the confidence that it brings you and keep building on it.”
The Hawks’ defense made a concerted effort to be more offensive and it showed as the blue line combined for eight points. It also helped the Hawks’ success on the power play.
“You get the power play going and all of sudden we get some excitement in our team game as well,” coach Joel Quenneville said.
Leave it to a somewhat unusual grouping of players on the second power-play unit to finally produce for the Hawks, who saw their rating with the man advantage plummet to the bottom of the league after falling to the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday.
Defensemen Duncan Keith (assist, plus-3) and Nick Leddy (two assists) were at the points. Rookie Marcus Kruger was at center with Dave Bolland out with a foot injury. Brunette was at wing and Montador was set up in the slot.
It worked twice.
Montador had a goal and an assist, while Brunette ended a 12-game goal drought with a rebound score. The two power-play goals were the most in a game for the Hawks this season.
“It doesn’t matter who scores the goals or how,” Toews said. “Just the fact that one of your units can go out there and make a couple of plays and something happen, that’s what you’re looking for.”
If there was one sour aspect of the victory, it was that the Hawks’ penalty kill showed some holes again, allowing the Blue Jackets to convert two of three power plays. Grant Clitsome scored twice and Mark Letestu also had a power-play goal to lead Columbus. Steve Mason allowed six goals on 36 shots.
Still, the Hawks were in full control from the start against the Blue Jackets, who fell to a league-worst 2-12-1. Corey Crawford made 27 saves for the victory, while Keith, Toews, Hossa and Viktor Stalberg all finished with plus-3 ratings. Brent Seabrook was a plus-2 with two assists.
“Obviously, we wanted to stop sliding like we were,” said Montador, who also had a first-period fight for the “Gordie Howe Hat Trick” Thursday. “We realized that our success comes from what we put into a game.
“We should be happy with this. But we certainly need to bounce back and get ready for another one [against the Calgary Flames Friday].”