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Blackhawks defeat Blue Jackets, losers of first six

by Brian Hedger

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks are still looking for somebody to fill Brandon Saad's spot on their top line, but that didn't slow them down against their former teammate and his new team at United Center on Saturday.

The Blackhawks won for the first time in three games, 4-1 against the Columbus Blue Jackets, who have lost six straight to open the season.

Four Blackhawks scored goals, and Corey Crawford made 22 saves in the win. Former Blue Jackets center Artem Anisimov opened the scoring in the second period, and Chicago (3-3-0) also got goals from Teuvo Teravainen, Marian Hossa and Patrick Kane.

"The last two games we only scored one [total] goal, and for this team, that isn't good enough," said Hossa, who assisted on Anisimov's goal for his first two-point game of the season. "We know we've got so much firepower here, but I think we have to learn how to play better defensively. That's what creates offense. It still wasn't great, but we were much better, and that's important, because we've got lots of new pieces coming together."

Saad finished without a point in his return to Chicago after being traded to Columbus in offseason. He screened Crawford on defenseman Jack Johnson's goal at 16:21 of the third, but it was too little, too late in another loss for the Blue Jackets (0-6-0).

"I don't know if we're looking for someone else to do it, if we're easing ourselves into games to wait for something bad to happen," Columbus forward Scott Hartnell said. "That's what I sense when we get playing. We're just waiting instead of doing and doing the right things. This is getting old. This is getting frustrating. I don't know what else to say. It's a tough start. It's embarrassing. A lot of people picked us to be there at the end, to make the playoffs, and we're doing a pretty good job of ruining that right away."

Curtis McElhinney made 26 saves in his first start of the season for Columbus.

The Blue Jackets are off to the worst start in their history and can't seem to carry momentum through an entire game. They played well in the first period, drawing penalties that led to two power plays and outshooting the Blackhawks 9-6, but got outplayed for most of the second and third.

Chicago outshot Columbus 15-3 in the second, when the Blackhawks took a 2-0 lead on goals by Anisimov and Teravainen.

"I think we got away from our game after the first period," Saad said. "For some reason, in the second and third, we were too fancy. Yeah, it's tough on a back-to-back night playing a good team, but at the same time, we've got to be smart with the puck. It's not about working hard. It's about working smart, and every time we had turnovers it cost us. We've got to learn that."

The Blackhawks acquired Anisimov as part of the Saad trade. The 27-year-old Russian has provided exactly what they wanted so far playing between rookie Artemi Panarin and Kane on the second line.

"He's playing with two special players, and I think with his thought process on both sides of the puck, he positions himself well," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "He sustains a lot of pucks, he's available, and he lets the other guys do their thing as well. Not just that he's the guy defensively that they rely on, but there is a lot of support there on both sides of the puck."

That puck support led to Chicago's first goal, which Anisimov scored at 15:35 of the second. After getting the puck from Panarin in the offensive zone, he beat McElhinney with a backhand shot from the low slot.

Teravainen followed it at 16:40 on the power play for his second goal, making Columbus pay for an interference penalty called on defenseman Cody Goloubef at 16:17. Teravainen got the puck in the right faceoff circle, attempted to hit Anisimov with a cross-ice feed and watched the puck deflect into the net off Blue Jackets defenseman Dalton Prout's left skate.

The Blackhawks almost broke the scoreless tie twice earlier in the period, but McElhinney made two big saves. The first was a diving glove save to keep a one-timer by Kane out of the net, and the second, 35 seconds later, prevented Panarin from scoring on a breakaway.

Chicago carried the two-goal lead into the third, and Hossa stretched it to 3-0 at 7:48 during a 5-on-3 power play.

After Chicago lost the puck near the Columbus blue line, Hossa chased down Matt Calvert in the neutral zone and stripped the puck from him. He carried it back into the offensive zone, faked a pass and sent a low wrist shot past McElhinney from the right circle.

"That was a pretty special play," Crawford said. "He didn't quit on that one. We lost the puck at the blue line and he came back and did the rest."

It was the 14th third-period goal allowed by the Blue Jackets, who have given up 30 goals through their first six games.

Kane scored an empty-net goal with 1:27 remaining.

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