BLACKHAWKS (15-0-3) 1, BLUE JACKETS (5-12-2) 0
UNITED CENTER | CHICAGO, IL
It's a shame that Steve Mason has to take one in the loss column, but that's the cruelty of hockey sometimes.
Making his first start since last Saturday night in Phoenix, Mason was the Blue Jackets' backbone tonight against the NHL's top team (and only club without a regulation loss) and gave them every opportunity to walk out of United Center with at least one point. But the offense wasn't there, and Andrew Shaw's late second period tally was the only goal of the game in a 1-0 loss, extending the Blackhawks' streak to 15-0-3 to begin the season.
There were chances for Columbus, too, and plenty of them. Derick Brassard had at least two high-end looks in the first period alone and Chicago provided additional momentum with a slew of careless penalties. The Blue Jackets' power play couldn't get anything going, either, and despite a late push from Columbus, the Blackhawks held them off for their fifth consecutive win.
The first period was scoreless and rather uneventful despite few whistles, and the only offensive highlight came with less than 90 seconds to play in the second period. The Blue Jackets were caught on a lengthy shift just after matching minors to Jared Boll and Michal Roszival had expired, and Bryan Bickell made a nice play from below the goal line to spot Shaw coming into the slot. Shaw snapped a quick one-timer past Mason's blocker side and gave the Blackhawks their first and only lead of the night.
Mason finished the game with 26 saves - three of which came off the stick of Marian Hossa - and was rock-solid from start to finish. The only blemish was a defensive breakdown and point-blank chance for Shaw and one that Mason didn't have much of a chance to stop.
From here, the Blue Jackets return home for a Tuesday night date with the Dallas Stars, and then head right back to Chicago in less than a week.
Tonight's turning point wasn't a particular time in the game, but more so in the third period when the Blackhawks kept taking penalties and giving the Blue Jackets power play chances. The air seemed to let out of the balloon after a string of opportunities that went by the wayside.
- Mason's performance is something he can build on, and it's a really good sign for the Blue Jackets with two goaltenders playing solid hockey.
- Birthday boy Tim Erixon played nearly 19 minutes - many of those alongside James Wisniewski - and played another strong game on the blue line. He's getting more comfortable shooting the puck and finding passing lines, and Todd Richards made sure the 22-year-old got some power play time.
- Ryan Johansen played 15:17 in his first game back with the big club and had four shots on goal, centering a solid line with Matt Calvert and Nick Foligno.
vs. Dallas Stars
Tuesday, 7 p.m.