The Chicago Blackhawks are back on track.
Chicago scored six unanswered goals after an early gaffe, and the Blackhawks cruised to a 6-1 win Saturday afternoon against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena. After losing nine straight contests, the Blackhawks have now won two in a row and are within one point of the Nashville Predators for fifth place in the Western Conference.
"As we went along we weren't thinking of the nine games as a whole. We were just trying to find a way out of that funk that we were in," said captain Jonathan Toews said. "It's huge to snap that losing streak but to come back with a win like we did today I would say was even bigger. We need to keep building off those good things we've been doing. Go work on getting another two points at home tomorrow and be excited about getting back home."
Toews got it rolling for Chicago with a highlight-reel goal and had three points, as did Patrick Sharp. Patrick Kane added a goal and an assist and Corey Crawford made 33 saves for the Blackhawks, who completed a nine-game road trip and will now get three in a row at United Center.
"Obviously, the first seven games were tough but sometimes you come out of it with positives," Kane said of the road trip. "The last two games we can look at it and we played good today, and we played good the last game. Hopefully we can get hot here. It's going to be nice going home today and actually just being there for a while."
The Blue Jackets had won four of six to start February, but this loss was a fifth straight against the Blackhawks this season and they've been outscored 26-9. Steve Mason started in goal for Columbus, but was pulled after allowing four goals and was shown on the CSNChicago broadcast yelling at interim coach Todd Richards during a timeout after being pulled.
Derick Brassard put Columbus in front early after a turnover by rookie defenseman Dylan Olsen, but it was all Blackhawks after that.
"I thought we got better as the game went on," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. "(Toews') goal certainly helped us, and we took off from there."
Toews leveled the score with a beautiful goal at 12:27 of the opening period. He skated around Columbus forward Jeff Carter and tucked a backhanded shot through Mason before falling to the ice.
Viktor Stalberg made it a 2-1 at 16:48 of the period. That's eight goals for Stalberg in five games against the Blue Jackets, which is half of his total for the season.
Sharp pushed the lead to two at 13:39 of the middle period on a perfect cross-ice feed from Kane, who then scored on a 2-on-3 less than two minutes later to chase Mason. Marcus Kruger and Sami Lepisto added tallies in the third period against Columbus rookie Allen York, who replaced Mason.
"I'm only disappointed because the way the game started. I was real happy with the way we came out, the way the first 14 or 15 minutes of the game went. The atmosphere was great, the crowd was great. And then, obviously, the game got away," said interim coach Todd Richards.