BLACKHAWKS (18-0-3) 4, BLUE JACKETS 3 (5-12-4)
UNITED CENTER | CHICAGO, IL
For most of the third period and overtime, the Blue Jackets had the league-best Chicago Blackhawks on the ropes. With one small opening, everything changed.
The Blue Jackets did not trail in this game until late in the second period when Bryan Bickell took advantage of a miscue in the neutral zone and scored on a 2-on-1 break, and the visiting side had the better of the play from that point forward. Most of the third period was spent inside the Blackhawks' end of the rink and the sold-out crowd at United Center was silent when Ryan Johansen snapped a 37-game goalless skid with a marvelous equalizer in the late stages of regulation.
They had chances to win the game in overtime, as well, but their only blemish came on the game-winner by Brent Seabrook.
Adrian Aucoin could not corral Jonathan Toews down the left wall and Toews cut hard to the net, drawing extra attention before snapping a quick centering pass over to Seabrook, who had the entire net to improve his team's record to 18-0-3 through the first 21 games.
And while the Blue Jackets were sharp at the end of the hockey game, they didn't start too poorly, either.
Vinny Prospal opened the scoring just 31 seconds in and put a tally on the board before many in the United Center could find their seats. He followed his own shot to the net and slid the puck under Ray Emery for an early Columbus lead, and they nearly went up 2-0 minutes later; Cam Atkinson was the recipient of a dandy backhand pass from Artem Anisimov right at the net, and made a swift deke to the forehand and looked to have room on the far side. Emery slid over and got just enough of Atkinson's attempt to keep it out of the net.
Anisimov gave the Blue Jackets a 2-1 lead in the second period on a quick wrister from the far boards, but the goal seemed to give Chicago some life, too. The Blackhawks stormed back with two goals in 59 seconds later in the middle frame to draw ahead for the first time, but the game went to overtime thanks to Johansen's first of the season -- and it was one to remember.
The Blue Jackets now return home to face the Colorado Avalanche in a Sunday afternoon matinee at Nationwide Arena.
The Blackhawks eventually got the winning goal in overtime, but they struggled in the extra session as the Blue Jackets kept coming with speed through the neutral zone. The waved-off (and obviously so) "goal" from Brandon Saad was a good re-group moment for Chicago, and on their next trip down the ice, Seabrook tapped in the deciding tally.
- Anisimov was terrific in his return to the lineup less than a week after a scary incident in Detroit. He played 16:42 while centering Matt Calvert and Cam Atkinson, took four shots on goal and scored a pretty nice goal in the second period.
- If anyone deserved a better outcome tonight, it's Steve Mason. He made his fair share of big stops in the second and third periods to give the Blue Jackets a chance to rally back, and aside from an odd-angle goal by Patrick Sharp, he was spot-on. He made 31 saves - including a seemingly impossible sprawling stop in the waning minutes - to help his team earn a point.
- Though RJ Umberger played one of his strongest games of the season. He made a splendid play to the play alive on Johansen's game-tying goal, outmuscling Chicago defenders to get the puck free to Foligno. He played 19 minutes and had good jump throughout the game.
- Nikita Nikitin's first career fighting major did not go unnoticed by his teammates. He stood up to Dan Carcillo for a questionable hit on Fedor Tyutin and challenged the always-willing Chicago agitator.
vs. Colorado Avalanche
Sunday, 3 p.m.