Blackhawks tie franchise-best start with 3-2 win


Blackhawks tie franchise-best start with 3-2 win

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) Jonathan Toews scored the game-winner early in the third period and Corey Crawford had 24 saves to help Chicago match the best start in franchise history with a 3-2 victory Saturday night over the Columbus Blue Jackets, running the Blackhawks' record to 5-0-0.

The only other time the Blackhawks began a season 5-0-0 was 1971-72.

Patrick Kane had two assists for the Blackhawks, who have a 40-23-7 record all-time against the Blue Jackets. Crawford, who won for the fourth time this season, was solid all night but particularly when the Blackhawks were a man down.

Steve Mason held his own with 21 saves for the Blue Jackets, who lost their third in a row. A goal by Derick Brassard was waved off in the second period when the officials ruled Nick Foligno interfered with Crawford. That decision caused a sellout crowd of 18,381 to boo throughout the game.

Mark Letestu gave Columbus a 1-0 lead and Artem Anisimov scored late to make it interesting for the Blue Jackets, who have been outscored 12-3 in their losing skid.

Chicago killed all five penalties and was also 0 for 3 on the power play.

Toews, off of Kane's second assist of the night, scored a big goal to put the Blackhawks up two goals 6:35 into the third after a turnover in the Chicago zone. Letestu's pass was deflected by Marian Hossa with Kane retrieving it. He fired a blind, quick pass to Toews who was all alone behind the defense. Toews faked left, then right, before flipping the puck past Mason for his third of the year and a 3-1 lead.

Anisimov backhanded in Brandon Dubinsky's wraparound attempt with 2:19 left in regulation, but the Blue Jackets could not get the equalizer.

With the score tied after a period, the Blackhawks picked up a goal at the 8:50 mark of the second.

Near the boards at the right corner of the blue line, Niklas Hjalmarsson's hard, low drive into heavy traffic in front of the net was redirected by Bickell.

Columbus thought it had tied it moments later but the goal was disallowed, enflaming a capacity crowd.

On the power play after Jamal Mayers went to the penalty box for unsportsmanlike conduct, Brassard's slap shot from the point beat Crawford. But referee Dan O'Rourke almost immediately waved off the goal. Replays showed Nick Foligno's right skate was in the crease, although there was no apparent contact between him and Crawford.

Between periods, Foligno said O'Rourke told him that the goal was disallowed because ``I had bumped him and didn't give him time to reset.''

The crowd booed lustily at every opportunity the rest of the night.

The Blue Jackets, who were shut out in their previous game 4-0 at Colorado on Thursday night, scored first while dominating the first 15 minutes.

While swarming the net, Foligno's shot was stopped by Crawford but the rebound caromed out to Letestu, who had been stymied by Crawford earlier in the sequence. This time Letestu slid the puck between the skates of Bolland and then through Crawford for his first goal of the season.

Outshot 6-0 and 9-2 early, the Blackhawks countered.

Columbus defenseman Fedor Tyutin got caught pinching in on offense and the puck ended up on the stick of Kane in the neutral zone with no Blue Jackets in front of him. The Blue Jackets' Ryan Johansen lost his stick trying to stop Kane's momentum, with Kane crashing into Mason who made the save. But while Mason was sprawled in the crease Bolland pounced on the puck and lifted it high over Mason and into the net for his third this season.

NOTES: Chicago went 6-0-0 against the Blue Jackets last season and is 20-12-4 all-time at Nationwide Arena. ... The Blackhawks improved to 4-0-0 on the road this season. ... The Blue Jackets were without RW Cam Atkinson, who suffered a lower-body injury in camp. He may be out at least a week. ... Hossa has 35 points (17 goals, 18 assists) in 29 career games against Columbus while Kane has 34 points (12 goals, 22 assists) and Toews 33 (14 goals, 20 assists) in 31 games against the Blue Jackets.

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John Wall on what he's learned sitting out due to his Achilles injury

John Wall on what he's learned sitting out due to his Achilles injury

It has been 419 days since John Wall last played in an NBA game. That is nearly 14 months of rehabbing injuries; first from surgery to remove bone spurs in his heel, then surgery to repair a ruptured left Achilles.

That has given Wall plenty of time to take a step back, watch the game of basketball and ponder what it will be like when he finally returns to the court, which right now looks like it will be in October to begin next season. During this time off, Wall has had some realizations about basketball and its role in his life. He shared them in an in-depth conversation with NBC Sports Washington's Chris Miller on the 'Wizards Talk podcast.'

"Now you understand how quickly and easily things can be taken away," Wall said.

Wall has also learned the value of patience. Since going viral with a series of dunks before games, he keeps hearing from others that he should be playing in games for the Wizards.

"Everybody was like ‘if he is doing these types of dunks, he can play.’ Well, there’s a lot more to basketball than just dunking," he said. "That’s not playing 38-to-40 minutes and then seeing how your body reacts the next day. You won’t know that until you play in a game. So, that’s why I’m not rushing the process and trying to re-injure anything. I’m just taking my time."

Wall said he has been pleased with his progress and that those videos going viral have been a reward for the time and effort he has put into his rehab. He also said he has been able to do even more behind closed doors, including a practice where he threw down a windmill dunk off his left, surgically-repaired leg.

Wall has long been a left-handed dunker because he would get more lift off his right leg due to injuries to the left. But after surgery, he is feeling better jumping off that leg.

If Wall can jump higher off his left leg, that should help him when he returns. But don't expect too many changes to the way he approaches the game.

Miller asked Wall if he would change the way he plays — if he would deviate from the same aggressive player who attacks the rim consistently.

"Nope," he said. "That’s all I know."

Wall spoke with Miller on a long list of topics including how Bradley Beal's game has changed, his respect for Davis Bertans' shooting ability and how he has dealt with the passing of his mother. You can listen to the full podcast here.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports. Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Capitals and Wizards games easily from your device.


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Former Oriole Nick Markakis has rough words for Astros after cheating scandal

Former Oriole Nick Markakis has rough words for Astros after cheating scandal

Since the start of spring training, players all over Major League Baseball have given their thoughts on the Astros' cheating scandal and how commissioner Rob Manfred handled the situation. The consensus has been predominantly negative. 

Former Orioles outfielder Nick Markakis joined in Tuesday morning with some very strongly-worded comments regarding the commissioner's ruling and his feelings toward current Astros players. 

"I feel like every single guy over there needs a beating," Markakis said in a video posted by 680 The Fan. "It's wrong, they're messing with people's careers."

Markakis didn't specify what a "beating" would include, though multiple pitchers, including the Dodgers' Ross Stripling, have said publicly that they would consider throwing at Astros hitters during the season. 

"I know how hard this game is, I know how hard preparing for this game is," Markakis said. "To see something like that, it's damaging to baseball."

After the investigation concluded, the Astros were fined $5 million and were stripped of their first and second-round picks in the 2020 and 2021 draft. General manager Jeff Luhnow and manager AJ Hinch were both suspended from baseball for a year and subsequentially fired for their involvement in the scheme. No Astros player was punished. 

"I think [Astros players] got off pretty easy," he said. "They're going to be able to go out there and compete with no ramifications at all, which is wrong. I think the commissioner handled it the wrong way, but that's the way he did it and that's the way we got to live with it. But I know a lot of people disagree with him and the way he handled the situation, he should be embarrassed of himself."

Houston's new manager, Dusty Baker was informed of Markakis' comments later that day and didn't appear too concerned with what the outfielder had to say. 

However, Baker has taken the threat of pitchers throwing at his players seriously. Last week he told the Houston Chronicle he hopes "the league puts a stop to this before somebody gets hurt."

The Astros will begin their spring training slate of games with a World Series rematch with the Nationals on Saturday. 

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports. Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Capitals and Wizards games easily from your device.