POST GAME ON THE ROAD presented by:
The league’s hottest team kept on rolling tonight at the United Center in Chicago.
Viktor Stalberg led the way with a pair of goals in a three-goal second period for the Blackhawks, who broke a scoreless tie early in the middle frame and never looked back. Chicago improved to 9-1-1 in the month of December with a 4-1 victory over the Blue Jackets at United Center, and extended its lead atop the NHL standings in the process.
After a scoreless first period that saw the Blue Jackets lead in shots on goal and get the better of the quality chances, the Blackhawks came out and dictated the tempo in the second period. Patrick Sharp tipped in a centering feed from Marian Hossa at 4:48 of the second period to open the scoring, where the Blackhawks are 14-0-1 when doing so.
The next two Blackhawks tallies came off the stick of the red-hot Viktor Stalberg, who has four goals and three assists in a four-game points streak. Stalberg has been especially dangerous against the Blue Jackets, scoring four goals in three games with Columbus this year.
James Wisniewski capitalized on a loose puck at 3:09 of the third period and pulled the Blue Jackets within 3-1 with plenty of time on the clock. Following the goal, Columbus got several effective shifts from the Derick Brassard and Jeff Carter lines and nearly cut it to 3-2, but Vinny Prospal was denied on a big save from Corey Crawford minutes later.
Marian Hossa buried a touch pass from Dave Bolland at 15:45 of the third period to secure the 4-1 final.
Down 2-0 late in the second period, the Blue Jackets were generating enough chances that a two-goal deficit wasn’t insurmountable. But a miscue in defensive-zone coverage resulted in a crucial scoring chance for the Blackhawks: Bolland slipped a check on the left wall and curled to the corner, where he set Stalberg up on a give-and-go sequence that the big Swede cashed into the top shelf, extending Chicago’s lead to 3-1.
After going 3-2-1 from Dec. 1-13, Columbus has dropped five-straight games, its longest regulation losing streak of the season.
The Blue Jackets allowed the first goal of the game for the 18th time this season. The club is now 1-15-2 in those games, while going 3-10-2 when tied after the first period and 1-11-1 when trailing after two periods.
Wisniewski scored his first goal in 15 games with his second of the season tonight. He last scored Nov. 19 at Nashville. He has points in six of the last 11 games with 1-6-7 during that stretch.
Derek MacKenzie picked up his first assist in five games with a helper on Wisniewski’s goal. He last had an assist Dec. 10 vs. Boston. He has collected 1-4-5 the last 11 games after being held to 1-0-1 the previous 13 games.
Mark Letestu notched his first assist in four games with an assist on Wisniewski’s goal. He last had a helper Dec. 13 vs. Vancouver. He has recorded 1-1-2 in three career games against the Blackhawks.
vs. Calgary Flames
Nationwide Arena | Columbus, Ohio
Tuesday, 7 p.m.
TV: FOX Sports Ohio (HD)
Radio: 97.1 The Fan & BlueJackets.com