The Blackhawks made it 12 consecutive victories against their former Central Division rivals by beating Columbus 6-1 at United Center on Thursday night. Andrew Shaw and Jonathan Toews each scored twice for Chicago (37-13-14), which remained in second place in the Central, two points behind the St. Louis Blues, who beat the Nashville Predators 2-1.
The Blackhawks rebounded from a 4-2 home loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday.
"It's good for us to get back on track," Toews said after the Blackhawks blew open a 1-1 game with five unanswered goals. "That's a hardworking, simple team that doesn't give up much, and we went out there and we worked hard and we skated and we wore them down and eventually we just got plenty of scoring chances."
Ryan Johansen had the lone goal for the Blue Jackets (32-26-5), whose three-game winning streak ended. Columbus, which moved to the Eastern Conference last summer during realignment, dropped out of the second wild-card spot in the East; the Blue Jackets and Detroit Red Wings each have 69 points, but Columbus has played one more game.
The Blue Jackets are trying to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the second time in franchise history; their only trip to the postseason came in 2009.
"We just came off a three-game winning streak. We've been playing great hockey. We have to approach every game like it's a playoff game, and tonight we didn't," Johansen said. "It's frustrating because we didn't play our game and who knows what these points, what difference they'll make at the end of the season. We let this one get away from us."
Chicago jumped in front 4:12 into the game after the Blue Jackets failed to clear their zone. Marcus Kruger grabbed the puck along the left half-wall and muscled his way to the slot. His backhander was swatted out of the air and into the net by Bollig for his seventh of the season.
Columbus tied it at 7:56 on a quick transition play. Dalton Prout picked up an errant pass at his own blue line and sprung Cam Atkinson the other way. Atkinson carried into the Chicago zone and found Johansen, whose snap shot from the lower right circle hit Crawford and went past him. The goal was Johansen's team-leading 25th.
Shaw put Chicago ahead to stay at 16:44. Brent Seabrook's long pass up the right boards got past Columbus defenseman Jack Johnson, allowing Shaw to come in alone from the blue line. He raced in and beat Columbus goalie Sergei Bobrovsky over the shoulder from the lower right circle.
"Shawsy's goal was a big goal for us," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. "It was a heck of a play from a pass up the ice and the way he received it and the shot he made was a huge goal for us. We took off from there."
Brandon Saad did most of the work on Toews' goal 8:00 into the second period. During a delayed penalty, Seabrook fed Saad, who weaved his way through the defense, picked up the deflection of his first attempt to feed Toews and found him the second time for an easy dunk into a half-empty net.
Bickell ended Bobrovsky's night at 12:29, slamming in the rebound of Kris Versteeg's shot during another delayed penalty. Bobrovsky, last season's Vezina Trophy winner, finished with 14 saves on 18 shots.
Shaw beat Bobrovsky's replacement, Curtis McElhinney, at 17:44 for his second of the night, 16th of the season.
Toews scored his 24th during a power play 3:04 into the third period, giving him five goals and six points in his past three games. He was happy with the way his team kept its foot on the gas all night long.
"We have to remind ourselves, even if we get up early in the game a couple of goals, we can keep working on our game regardless of where the game's at," Toews said. "We know we don't have too many games left this year and every point is important, but at the same time we want to keep improving every period."
Columbus coach Todd Richards wasn't happy with anything he saw from his team.
"At this stage of the season, we can't be saying, 'Well, we'll bounce back from this.' Listen, every game is important; every point is important," Richards said. "We can't say, 'We're going to have a bad game, we have to bounce back now.' The way it is right now at game 63, or whatever it is that we've played, our game should be, we should be in tune with our game. Our game should be there every single night.
"This was nowhere close to where we can play and where we should be playing."
Columbus defenseman Nikita Nikitin left in the first period after being hit behind the net. He returned for the start of the second period, but left soon after with what the team called an upper-body injury.
Material from team media was used in this report.
|Brandon Bollig (7) ASST: Marcus Kruger (19)|
1 - 0 CHI
|Ryan Johansen (25) ASST: Cam Atkinson (16), Dalton Prout (4)|
1 - 1 Tie
|Andrew Shaw (15) ASST: Sheldon Brookbank (4), Nick Leddy (19)|
2 - 1 CHI
|Jonathan Toews (23) ASST: Brandon Saad (24), Brent Seabrook (30)|
3 - 1 CHI
|Bryan Bickell (10) ASST: Kris Versteeg (20), Marcus Kruger (20)|
4 - 1 CHI
|Andrew Shaw (16) ASST: Brent Seabrook (31), Duncan Keith (47)|
5 - 1 CHI
|PPG - Jonathan Toews (24) ASST: Patrick Kane (38), Patrick Sharp (33)|
6 - 1 CHI
|Nick Schultz Interference against Peter Regin|
|Jonathan Toews Hooking against David Savard|
|Brandon Dubinsky Roughing against Patrick Kane|
|Nathan Horton Slashing against Brandon Saad|
|Kris Versteeg Holding against Brandon Dubinsky|
|James Wisniewski Interference against Bryan Bickell|
|Duncan Keith Hi-sticking against Derek MacKenzie|
|Johnny Oduya Tripping against Boone Jenner|