The Chicago Blackhawks looked to conclude their three-game road trip on a high note against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday night at Nationwide Arena. The game was expected to be defenseman Seth Jones’ return to Columbus, however, it was not to be, as earlier in the day, Jones, along with teammate Jake McCabe, were placed in COVID-19 protocol. As a result, the Blackhawks recalled defenseman Jakub Galvas from Rockford, and he made his NHL debut paired alongside Riley Stillman. In addition, Blue Jackets defenseman and former Blackhawk Adam Boqvist faced his former team for the first time since the blockbuster trade involving Jones last summer.
The Blue Jackets are coming off a 4–3 win at home against the New Jersey Devils and are looking to end a five-game losing streak to the Hawks. In goal, the Hawks started Marc-Andre Fleury following an emotional win in his return to Vegas over the weekend, while the Jackets went with Joonas Korpisalo between the pipes.
After a sluggish start by both teams, Columbus struck first at the 12:51 mark. Off a face-off win, the Jackets maintained possession with Gustav Nyquist skating behind the net then back in front, where he found Boone Jenner, who tapped in his 14th of the season from the doorstep to give the home team a 1–0 lead.
The Hawks tied it 24 seconds later when Stillman intercepted a Columbus clearing attempt and fired a slap pass from the right point to the left side of the net, where a wide-open Alex DeBrincat shot one past Korpisalo. For “The Cat,” it was his 22nd of the season and his fifth goal in his last five games.
After 20 minutes, the Hawks and Jackets were knotted at 1–1. Despite not registering a shot on goal until nearly midway through the period, the Hawks managed to catch up and tie the Jackets in shots on goal at eight apiece.
At the 15:10 mark, Philipp Kurashev won a foot race down the ice past Jackets defenseman Jake Bean, not to be confused with Boqvist, and then found Calvin de Haan skating in alone on the right wing, who fired home his first goal of the season to give the Hawks a 2–1 lead.
For the second, the Hawks registered just three shots versus eight for the Jackets, who led the Hawks in shots on goal 16–11 through two periods.
Clinging to a one-goal lead, the Hawks added an insurance tally early in the period. From behind the net, Patrick Kane found DeBrincat in the left circle, who fed a pinching Connor Murphy in the right circle, and he slapped one past a sprawling Koprisalo. For Murphy, a native of Dublin, Ohio, the goal was his third of the season at the 6:36 mark.
With the Hawks nursing a two-goal lead, they were awarded a power play with just under three minutes left in regulation. While taking their time up the ice to drain the clock, the Hawks gave up a 2-on-1 break, with Nyquist firing his eighth of the season past Fleury for a shorthanded goal to cut the Blackhawks’ advantage to 3–2 at the 18:39 mark.
When the power play expired, Columbus pulled Korpisalo for an extra attacker to try to get the equalizer, but the Hawks answered. DeBrincat had a step on two Columbus defenders and fired the puck wide, but “The Cat” pounced on the rebound off the boards for his second of the game and 23rd of the season with 15 seconds remaining to give the Hawks a 4–2 lead. Chicago held on for its seventh straight win over the Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena. In the third, Columbus had a 10–9 edge in shots on goal and finished with a 26–20 advantage for the game.
The good, the bad, the ugly
Jakub Galvas: It was a strong debut for the 22-year-old from the Czech Republic, who was second among all Hawks defenseman in minutes played (23:41), including some time on the first power play unit. He certainly looked the part, as he was poised and responsible defensively while showing he is more than capable of running the point with the man advantage.
Riley Stillman: Paired with Galvas, Stillman was strong in all three zones. Not known as an offensive threat, Stillman registered two assists and now has a career-high seven helpers for the season. With the defense missing a few regulars, the Hawks needed Stillman to step up, and he responded.
The Hawks’ power play: Two words: Not good. In their first three opportunities with the man advantage, which entered the game ranked 18th in the NHL, the Blackhawks generated just two shots on goal. During their fourth power play chance late in the game, they gave up a shorty. Perhaps this was a symptom of playing without Jones, but simply put (and stating the obvious), the Hawks need to find ways to get more pucks on net.
The Hawks’ 5-on-5 play: This remains a major issue just like the last several seasons. Despite the Hawks winning the game, the Jackets had a clear edge in 5-on-5 play. According to NaturalStatTrick.com, Columbus had the advantage at even strength in CF/CA (41–23), shots on goal (21–15) and scoring chances (21–11), however, on a positive note, the Hawks limited Columbus to just five high-danger scoring chances.
The Blackhawks won despite playing without two of their top four defensemen, but credit the six blueliners who did suit up, as they battled all night. The Hawks won the final two outings of their three-game road trip and now head home to play their next two at United Center, beginning Thursday night against the Montreal Canadiens. Puck drop is at 7:30 p.m. CST on NBCSCH with the radio call on WGN 720.