Five games into the new season, the Chicago Blackhawks are still perfect.
Bryan Bickell's goal midway through the second period broke a tie, and Jonathan Toews scored what proved to be the game-winner as the Blackhawks held off the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-2 Saturday, spoiling the night for a full house at Nationwide Arena.
The Blackhawks matched the record for the best start in franchise history; the 1971-72 team also won its first five games. Chicago has scored 20 goals in the five wins.
This wasn't the Blackhawks' best performance, but it was enough to beat the struggling Blue Jackets, who fell to 1-3-1 and haven't won since defeating the Nashville Predators 3-2 in a shootout on opening night.
"That was one of those games where maybe we didn't play our best hockey like we've seen in the last five games, but as a team it doesn't matter who goes out there, you've got to find a way to win," Toews said. "And we did that."
Goaltender Corey Crawford played another solid game, making 24 saves and holding off a late surge by Columbus.
"I feel good, I feel focused," Crawford said. "The puck looks pretty big right now. Also, everyone's making the effort to play defense. It's showing in the first bunch of games -- guys are coming back to help out and that helps us get to offense after that."
Spurred by the crowd of 18,381, the Blue Jackets came out strong and grabbed a 1-0 lead at 7:35 of the opening period when Mark Letestu shoveled home a loose puck after a scramble in front of Crawford. The Blue Jackets dominated the first 15 minutes, but they couldn't get another puck past Crawford and the Blackhawks tied it at 17:54 on a goal by Dave Bolland, who had a wide-open net to shoot at after goaltender Steve Mason stopped Patrick Kane's breakaway.
"Finding ways to win is important," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "You're not going to be great every night or your best every night. Columbus played a hard-working game, working harder than us tonight. But we got key saves from [Crawford] tonight, and that helped us."
Bickell put the Blackhawks ahead to stay at 8:50 of the second period by deflecting Niklas Hjalmarsson's blast from the right point past Mason. Toews gave Chicago a two-goal lead at 6:35, with Kane earning his second assist.
The Blue Jackets thought they had scored in the second period , but a goal by Derick Brassard was waved off when the officials ruled Nick Foligno interfered with Crawford. That decision caused the sellout crowd to boo throughout the game.
"You never know how a game's going to end up," Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards said. "[The goal being disallowed] certainly changed the course of the game. At the time, we were down 2-1. It's a huge play. He [referee Dan O'Rourke] makes the call, he saw what he saw. There's nothing we can do once he makes the call."
Kane, whose scoring totals have dropped in each of the past two seasons, leads the Blackhawks with two goals and nine points. He has more than one point in four of the five games.
"You can tell he's good ol' Kaner," Toews said. "He's going to work hard and make plays."
The Blue Jackets could only ponder the goal that didn't count.
"Overall everybody worked hard," said Mason, who turned in a solid 21-save performance. "It's unfortunate. I'm not sure what the call was on that second goal for us but the guys kept working and we just came up a little short."
Material from team media and wire services was used in this report
|Mark Letestu (1) ASST: Nick Foligno (1), Derek Dorsett (3)|
1 - 0 CBJ
|Dave Bolland (3) ASST: Patrick Kane (6)|
1 - 1 Tie
|Bryan Bickell (1) ASST: Niklas Hjalmarsson (2), Michael Frolik (1)|
2 - 1 CHI
|Jonathan Toews (3) ASST: Patrick Kane (7), Marian Hossa (2)|
3 - 1 CHI
|Artem Anisimov (2) ASST: Brandon Dubinsky (1), Ryan Johansen (2)|
3 - 2 CHI
|Sheldon Brookbank Holding against Derek MacKenzie|
|Jack Johnson Boarding against Dave Bolland|
|Dave Bolland Slashing against Jack Johnson|
|Mark Letestu Interference against Viktor Stalberg|
|Jamal Mayers Unsportsmanlike conduct against Jared Boll|
|Jamal Mayers Fighting (maj) against Jared Boll|
|Jared Boll Fighting (maj) against Jamal Mayers|
|Artem Anisimov Delaying Game-Puck over glass|
|Patrick Kane Hooking against Derick Brassard|
|Dave Bolland Holding the stick against Derek Dorsett|
|Dave Bolland Unsportsmanlike conduct against Derek Dorsett|
|Derick Brassard Tripping against Jonathan Toews|
|Derek Dorsett Hi-sticking against Patrick Sharp|