Going into tonight's game, head coach John Tortorella had said he wanted to see his team play more soundly defensively and also be prepared for some different looks off the rush.
Both aspects of the game came to bear in Chicago as the Blue Jackets fell to the Blackhawks by a score of 5-1.
Sonny Milano provided the lone goal for the Jackets.
The home team got on the board early. 1:33 into the game, Gustav Forsling, Ryan Hartman and Patrick Kane executed a quick cross-rink passing sequence off the rush that resulted in the Jackets defense biting on the play, giving Kane a clear path to the net. His shot beat Joonas Korpisalo to make it 1-0.
There was some chippiness early that led to a cluster of penalties and a goal.
After Lance Bouma and Lukas Sedlak collided on the ice, Zach Dalpe and Bouma dropped the gloves. That sent both players to the box. Then, Sonny Milano took a hooking penalty giving Chicago the first power play of the night, and the Blackhawks capitalized with a Brandon Saad score.
In the second period the Jackets seemed to find a bit more fluidity in their game and the two teams traded chances until halfway through the middle frame.
10:14 in, Richard Panik checked Seth Jones into the boards and took the puck away before Saad delivered it to Jonathan Toews in the right circle who made it 3-0.
But the Jackets refused to be shut out. For the second game in a row, Sonny Milano got the Jackets' first goal of the game. 31 seconds after Toews' score, Nick Foligno drove to the net and his shot nicked off a Blackhawks' skate and trickled through Corey Crawford before Milano gave the puck a final nudge over the goal line.
Just over two minutes later, Chicago found another way to take advantage off the rush. Jan Rutta made it 4-1 with just over eight minutes to play in the second.
In the final period, the Blackhawks extended their lead to 5-1 when Panik stole the puck from Zach Werenski immediately following a faceoff and beat Korpisalo from the right circle. That score would stand as the final.
The Jackets' record stands at 1-1-0 on the season. Next up, the team heads to Carolina to face the Hurricanes on Tuesday.
By the numbers:
1: Gabriel Carlsson earned his first NHL point of the season with the secondary assist on Milano's goal.
2: In two consecutive games, number 22, Sonny Milano, has scored a goal. They are his first two career NHL goals.
17: Friday and Saturday's games were the first of 17 back-to-backs the Blue Jackets play this season.
24: The next time these two teams meet is Feb. 24 at Nationwide Arena.
79: For the second game in a row, Nick Foligno led the team in faceoffs, winning 11 of 14 (79%).
"What They Said."
Nick Foligno on Chicago's ability to score off the rush: "That's a team that loves to play off the rush and if you hand it to them they are going to make you pay. We did that tonight. We dared them a couple times to make plays and they did. That's on us to understand the ebbs and flows of the game. Sometimes you have to make that easy play and it cost us."
John Tortorella on Joonas Korpisalo: "On a back-to-back night he's going to have to be our best player. I thought he made some good saves tonight but I thought there were some struggles along the way. But it's not him, it was right through our lineup and we just weren't sharp."
Joonas Korpisalo on Chicago's play: "They were going back door all the time and stuff like that. It's a unique game and you have to play against it with respect. They scored more goals than us today."
Artemi Panarin on playing against his former team: "There were some nerves before this game. Even though it was the second game of the season it was still a team that I haven't quite forgotten. There were some emotions before the game and it's good to get this one behind us. Now we get a chance to regroup, to train, to get a little bit of rest and look forward to the rest of the season."