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Blackhawks edge Jackets in seesaw battle

by Brian Hunter
Two-goal leads were hardly safe at Nationwide Arena on Sunday, but the Chicago Blackhawks got the two points they were seeking in the end.

Troy Brouwer scored in the fourth round of the shootout as the Blackhawks first came back from two goals down and then let the Columbus Blue Jackets do the same thing before emerging with a 5-4 victory on Sunday afternoon.

Patrick Kane, Bryan Bickell, Jake Dowell and Patrick Sharp all scored in regulation for Chicago, which pulled to within two points of San Jose for the Western Conference lead.

Sharp said the key to the game was "just staying with it. The last team to score was going to win that one tonight, that’s obvious. Both teams gave up a lot of chances, probably a little too many than the coaching staffs of each team would like, but it was an exciting game for the fans. I thought it was good efforts from both teams and fun to watch."

Kristian Huselius, Raffi Torres, Rick Nash and Fedor Tyutin had the goals for Columbus. Huselius also scored in the third round to extend the shootout after Kane had come up with a goal in round two. After Antti Niemi came up with a stop on Antoine Vermette, a forehand shot by Brouwer beat Mathieu Garon to give the Blackhawks the bonus point.

"I got a move where I come down on (Niemi) in practice and I shoot low glove, so I figured … it might work as well," Brouwer said.

Kane was involved in a knee-on-knee collision with Jackets defenseman Anton Stralman in the third period, but seemed to finish the game none the worse for wear.

"It just felt sore for a bit," said Kane, who then headed off to join the rest of the U.S. team at the Olympics in Vancouver. "I think it's one of those things that once it gets hit, you've just got to warm it up a bit. It didn't really affect me the rest of the game."

Brouwer ended up with a double minor after instigating a fight with Stralman while wearing a shield, and Tyutin scored the tying goal at 7:58 on the second half of the four-minute power play.

"I felt it was dirty," Brouwer said. "It's always tough to see a teammate go down. So I had to step in."

Huselius and Torres scored 2:08 apart in the first period to stake Columbus to an early 2-0 lead.

Kane started the Chicago comeback by scoring a power-play goal six seconds before the intermission. Bickell and Dowell, a pair of youngsters, turned the deficit into a lead in the second and Sharp made it 4-2 with 6:01 remaining.

At that point it was the Jackets’ turn to claw back. Nash tallied with 2:16 left in the period to trim their deficit to one heading into the third, and the team eventually earned a point to improve to 3-1-1 since Claude Noel took over as coach.

"He’s telling us good things," Stralman said. "He’s happy with how we’ve played the last five games when he’s been the head coach, and hopefully we get better and better and come back from the break ready to go again."

Columbus remains nine points out of a playoff berth in the West, but Noel doesn’t want his players concerning themselves with that now.

"I'm telling them to let their minds go free and enjoy their time away and come back with vim and vigor and joy," he said.

Material from wire services and team broadcast media was used in this report.
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