Blackhawks hope to stay on track vs. Blue Jackets
The Chicago Blackhawks have put their longest losing streak in over five years behind them and will try to record consecutive wins when they visit the Columbus Blue Jackets today at Nationwide Arena.
The Blackhawks were on an 0-8-1 slide entering Thursday's road game against the New York Rangers and Chicago posted a 4-2 win over the Eastern Conference leaders. It was Chicago's first win since Jan. 20 and it ended the club's longest losing streak since an 0-8-2 stretch from Jan. 4-26, 2007.
Chicago's recent struggles hurt the team's postseason standing and the Blackhawks are currently sixth in the Western Conference and five points behind Nashville for the fifth seed.
Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa each had a goal and an assist in a big first period Thursday at Madison Square Garden. Toews scored on a penalty shot to make it 1-0 just 65 seconds into the game and Hossa scored at 9:38 of the first to push Chicago's lead to 4-0.
"We have to keep going here because we put ourselves in a tough situation," said Toews. "We need to keep digging our way out of this hole and play hard."
Nick Leddy and Patrick Sharp also scored while Corey Crawford stopped 22 shots for the Blackhawks, who also halted an 11-game road skid. Chicago is 1-6-1 on a nine-game road trip that ends today and the 'Hawks are just 11-15-3 as the visiting club this year.
Following today's tilt, the Blackhawks will return home for their next three games.
Although the Blue Jackets are still dead last in the NHL with 40 points, the club has played its best hockey of the season in recent weeks. Columbus is 4-3-0 in February to match its best win total from any month this season.
Columbus recorded a 2-1 regulation win when it last played on Tuesday against the visiting St. Louis Blues. Derek Dorsett scored the game-winning goal in the third period to lift the Blue Jackets to their fourth win in six games.
James Wisniewski also scored and Steve Mason made 31 saves for the Blue Jackets.
"I thought it was a terrific hockey game and I'm really pleased with the way our guys played tonight," Blue Jackets interim head coach Todd Richards said. "It was one of our best 60-minute performances of the year."
Columbus is 10-15-3 as the host this year and is completing a three-game homestand today. It could have defenseman Brett Lebda back in the lineup tonight after activating him from injured reserve on Friday. He had missed the past five games with a hand injury.
Goaltender Curtis Sanford was placed on IR due to an upper-body ailment.
Chicago has won five straight against the Blue Jackets and is 4-0 in this year's season series. The Blackhawks have taken four in a row and seven of the last eight encounters in Ohio.