Corey Crawford summed it up as well as anyone.
“It was kind of a flat game, I thought, for most of it there. There wasn’t much going on,” Crawford said. “But we made some plays when we needed to.”
No, the Blackhawks-Columbus Blue Jackets game wasn’t the most scintillating contest. But with a four-day break looming the Blackhawks, who had been rather goal deprived in their previous two contests, got that side of their game going.
Artem Anisimov scored his second goal of the season and Marian Hossa got his first as the Blackhawks beat the Blue Jackets 4-1 on Saturday night. On a night when Brandon Saad returned to Chicago with his new team, the Blackhawks sent the Blue Jackets home with another loss. Columbus is now 0-6-0 this season.
Teuvo Teravainen scored a power-play goal and Patrick Kane added an empty-net goal. Crawford stopped 22 of 23 shots for the victory. The Blackhawks snapped a two-game losing streak and, after scoring just one goal in their previous two games, found some offense again.
“Well, the last two games we only scored one goal and for this team it’s not good enough,” Hossa said. “We know we have so much firepower here I think we have to learn how to play better defensively and that’s what creates offense.”
That’s pretty much how Hossa got his goal. With time running out on a two-minute 5-on-3 and the Blackhawks doing little on it, Hossa stole the puck from Columbus forward Matt Calvert and scored for a 3-0 lead at the time.
“Guys who are known as scorers enjoy scoring, like everybody should,” coach Joel Quenneville said of Hossa’s first of the season. “It was nice to see the finish. He made a great play in the neutral zone. It was a sloppy 5-on-3 and all of a sudden he finishes it off with strength on the puck in the neutral zone, beats two guys and scores a huge goal for us at that time.”
The Blackhawks entered the second period having scored just one goal the previous periods — Viktor Svedberg’s third-period goal in Washington on Thursday. Anisimov broke through late in the second, backhanding an Artemi Panarin pass past Curtis McElhinney for a 1-0 lead. Just 65 seconds later, Teravainen scored when his power-play shot went off Dalton Prout’s skate. The Blackhawks also held the Blue Jackets in check in the second period; Columbus had just three shots in that frame. Crawford didn’t have much to do in that time.
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“It felt boring in the second a little bit,” Crawford said. “Those ones are… you have to find a way mentally to try and stay in it.”
Kane scored an empty netter with 1:27 remaining in regulation.
The Blackhawks still have some things to work out with all their changes. But they were stronger on defense and got some much-needed goals. It’s a start.
“Tonight I thought we were much better. It still wasn’t great but we were much better and that’s important,” Hossa said. “[With] lots of new pieces coming together, it’s going to take 10-15 games to get exactly where we want it. So a huge game after two losses.”