Aftermath No. 28: Chicago
Reaching into the memory bank, it's hard to remember an overtime period that had the heartbeat pumping like we saw tonight. From start to finish, it was an absolute roller coaster and every single one of the 15,009 in attendance got their money's worth regardless of the result.
Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards has previously said that the Blackhawks are a club that's not afraid to trade scoring chances because they're confident enough to out-score the opposition, but tonight, it wasn't the case. Columbus did well to limit the effectiveness of Chicago's top players through 65 minutes of regulation and overtime, and unfortunately, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane's only significant impact decided the outcome.
Sergei Bobrovsky was a difference-maker yet again. He made 39 saves before facing a shootout for the third consecutive game, and mixed in was a handful of incredible saves to keep the Blue Jackets in the game. Nationwide Arena gave Bobrovsky two standing ovations in the third period and a roaring cheer in overtime, as he lunged back to take away a sure goal from Dave Bolland.
All in all, the Blue Jackets are still playing the same brand of hockey: aggressive, "on your toes" hockey that disrupts the opposition's rhythm. The Blackhawks looked unnerved at times tonight and a lot of it had to do with how the Blue Jackets feverishly pursued the puck.
Let's break down tonight's entertaining matchup at Nationwide Arena, the final showdown between the Jackets and Blackhawks as division rivals (tear):
1. FRANCHISE RECORD: At some point, you knew all the tight games the Blue Jackets were playing would start to yield some results. Their recent five-game winning streak ended on Tuesday night, but they have picked up points in nine consecutive games -- a new franchise record. The previous best (eight) was set way back in Jan.-Feb. of 2001, the club's inaugural season. This is a pesky bunch and they're never out of a game, and with rock-solid goaltending behind them, their confidence remains intact.
2. THE "D" IN DEFENSE: The Blackhawks have an X-factor, and it's that they can "skill" their way to points when they don't have their best all-around game going. The Blue Jackets' checking effort and commitment in the defensive end tonight was strong, and they limited time and space for Toews/Kane/etc. to operate in the offensive zone. They closed on players, won loose pucks battles, and (aside from a few shifts in the early part of the third period) made a lot of clean exits out of the zone. Kane - with the primary assist on Johnny Oduya's goal - was the only Blackhawks forward to register a point tonight.
3. LIEUTENANT BOBROVSKY? One thing Bobrovsky doesn't have to worry about is his dinner tab anytime soon. The guy has played absolutely unreal of late; in his last 10 appearances, he's sporting a 6-1-3 record with a 1.48 goals-against average and a .950 save percentage. When your goaltender is posting gaudy numbers like that, you're going to win more often than not. His overtime save on Bolland tonight was one of the best stops in about 15 minutes, as he accumulated a portfolio of larceny down the stretch in the third period.