BLACKHAWKS (5-0-0) 3, BLUE JACKETS (1-3-1)
NATIONWIDE ARENA | COLUMBUS, OHIO
The end result is a 3-2 loss for the Blue Jackets tonight, but the underlying story was far more complex and disappointing.
On a night when the Chicago Blackhawks sought their fifth consecutive win to open the season, they got perhaps their strongest resistance yet from a Blue Jackets club that found its tenacious, forechecking game from early in the season. This was a hard-fought game that hung in the balance until the dying seconds, but a disallowed goal in the second period was the hottest topic of conversation both inside and out of Nationwide Arena.
With the Blue Jackets on a power play and trailing 2-1, Derick Brassard sent a one-timer toward Chicago goaltender Corey Crawford that deflected off Nick Foligno's stick and into the net. Referee Dan O'Rourke immediately washed it out for goaltender interference, but replays showed no contact was made with Crawford and there was not a Blue Jackets player in the goal crease.
The sold-out crowd of 18,318 was livid and so was Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards, but they had to pull it together and claw back into the game. Despite a turnover that led to a Jonathan Toews goal at 6:35 of the third period, Columbus kept coming and pressured the Blackhawks into mistakes down the stretch.
Steve Mason, who made 21 saves in a very strong effort, was called to the bench with 2:41 remaining in the third period. Just 14 seconds later, Brandon Dubinsky went to work behind the Blackhawks net and jammed a loose puck to Artem Anisimov, who roofed a backhander to bring the Blue Jackets within a goal.
Columbus pushed with the extra attacker but couldn't crack Crawford for a third time, as the Chicago netminder stood tall and made 24 stops in the victory.
Not hard to find the turning point in this game. The Blue Jackets will likely only say they disagree with the call and the video evidence was pretty distinct, but at the end of it all, they still had to re-group and try to tie it up once again. Momentum shifted back and forth throughout the game but the Blue Jackets, no matter how well they played, won't be able to shake the feeling of thinking they had the game tied up.
- Tremendous game from Ryan Johansen tonight. He played big minutes, was elevated in the lineup late in the game when Columbus needed a goal, and was overall one of the best players on the ice for either side.
- Mason's best moments came when the Blue Jackets needed him, and he made some stellar glove stops on Kane and Patrick Sharp to keep Columbus within shouting distance. If he can build on this performance, he will be in good shape. He kept the Blue Jackets in the game.
- The pairing of Jack Johnson and James Wisniewski was an offensive threat throughout the game and I thought this was one of their best games together. They each played heavy minutes again and didn't look tired one bit.
- The duo of Kane and Marian Hossa is lethal. And when you think you've got them bottled up, Jonathan Toews comes off the bench. Chicago is a team to be reckoned with.
vs. Dallas Stars
Monday, 7 p.m.
TV: FOX Sports Ohio (HD)
Radio: 97.1 FM & BlueJackets.com