Game 73 Recap: Jackets Throttled by the 'Hawks

March 20, 2012; Columbus, OH, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson (7) carries the puck against the Chicago Blackhawks during the second period at Nationwide Arena. Mandatory Credit: Russell LaBounty-US PRESSWIRE

After a hard-earned win over the Calgary Flames on Sunday, the Jackets were looking to play spolier again, this time against the division-rival Blackhawks. After allowing three goals before the middle of the first period, the Jackets were playing catch-up for the rest of the game.

If you're so inclined, read on after the jump for the full breakdown.

First Period

The first few minutes of the game saw some tentative play by both sides, with neither team establishing a home in the opposition zone. There was one exception- the Jackets' second line of Mark Letestu, Vinny Prospal and Cam Atkinson had a fantastic shift, buzzing around Chicago starter Corey Crawford, coming close to scoring a pair of times.

Looking to make an impact for the 'Hawks, Brandon Bolig sought out the services of Jared Boll for the purpose of chucking knuckles. Boll, not one to turn down a good donnybrook, accepted Bolig's request and the two threw down. It wasn't much of a fight, really, more of a wrestling match, but nonetheless the fight seemed to give Chicago a spark.

At the 4:12 mark, Chicago's Andrew Shaw opened the scoring.Bryan Bickell won a battle in the corner, taking the puck to the front of the net. He slid the puck cross-crease, where it deflected off of Shaw.

1-0 Blackhawks: Andrew Shaw (Bryan Bickell, Duncan Keith)

Just over two minutes later, the 'Hawks struck again. Patrick Sharp received the puck down low, almost on the goal line to Steve Mason's right. Sharp wired the puck toward the net, and it deflected off Mason's back and dropped into the net.

2-0 Blackhawks: Patrick Sharp (Viktor Stalberg, Marcus Kruger)

Derek Dorsett and Colton Gillies, two-thirds of the checking unit for Columbus, came close at the 12:16 mark. After some solid forechecking, the puck made its way to the side of the net, where Dorsett jammed at it. Crawford was able to intercept, however.

Speaking of Gillies, I don't know what to make of him. He's signed for next year for $625,000, a reasonable number for a bottom six player such as he is. He's a hard worker, there's no doubting that- but he may as well play without a stick most of the time, it's almost of no use to him. I think if the organization can add some depth to the third line next season Gillies would be a good fit on an energetic fourth line with Derek MacKenzie as his centerman, but he shouldn't be any higher in the lineup than that.

Again, just two minutes after the previous goal, the 'Hawks scored to go up by three. Brent Seabrook gathered the puck at the right point, and flipped a soft wrister on-net. It seemed to hit Aaron Johnson before redirecting past Mason.

3-0 Blackhawks: Brent Seabrook (Duncan Keith, Dave Bolland)

To the Jackets' credit, they battled back after allowing the third goal. The Letestu line, which has been the Jackets' most creative and dangerous offensively the past few weeks, was again making things happen. They were unable to beat Crawford, but on every shift they were working their tails off and getting scoring chances.

Late in the period the top line showed up, if only briefly. Rick Nash cycled the puck with R.J. Umberger, who then took the puck to the net. He and linemate Derick Brassard pounded away at the puck in the blue paint, but Crawford managed to smother it for a whistle.

End of the first period, 3-0 Blackhawks.

Second Period

The middle period began with the news that Rick Nash was not on the Columbus bench, but he came back a few minutes into the game.

At 2:39 the Blackhawks were called for too many men on the ice. The Jackets were able to set up shop for most of the man advantage, but were unable to get any shots through, though they did show good puck movement. I said it before and I'll say it again- Derick Brassard is great at the point on the powerplay, with Johnson and/or Wisniewski as the shooter.

At 6:33 the Jackets were given another chance to go up a man when Shaw was whistled for boarding. Unlike the previous powerplay, this one didn't feature good puck movement by the Jackets. They looked disjointed and failed to establish themselves in the Chicago zone.

For most of the next ten minutes, the Jackets showed a ton of energy and hard work. They were starting to win more battles along the boards, but still couldn't get anything going offensively. On one particular occassion, Nash had the puck on the right wing, and fed a streaking Umberger cross-crease, who had an open look. At the last moment, Umberger was stick-checked, foiling the scoring chance. Nash may have been better off shooting.

Random observation- the guy behind Dan Hinote and Natalie Taylor during their bench "interview" was a tool.

With slightly over a minute left in the period, Dorsett was sent to the box for roughing. After Shaw missed a big hit that likely would have sent Dorsett into the Chicago bench, Dorsett retaliated by giving him the business. Shaw resisted, and Dorsett was sent to the box. Chicago was unable to score before the horn sounded.

End of the second period, 3-0 Blackhawks.

Third Period

The 'Hawks began the period still up by one skater. Just 37 seconds in, they scored their fourth of the game. Patrick Sharp scored a beauty from the left dot, one-timing a pass and wiring it past Mason.

4-0 Blackhawks: Patrick Sharp (Marian Hossa, Duncan Keith)

At the 3:23 mark, Darryl Boyce was sent off for boarding. This one in particular was one of the hits from behind that have to be called, but aren't the fault of the player making the hit. Boyce had already committed to finishing his check on Nick Leddy, when Leddy spun with the puck, putting his back to Boyce as the Columbus forward engaged him. The hit almost always looks and sounds worse than it is, but nonetheless Boyce was handed the minor.

On the ensuing powerplay, the 'Hawks continued their onslaught. Shaw took the pass from Keith to the right and behind Mason. Shaw fired a quick pass to Marian Hossa who was all alone in front of the net. Hossa had a wide open cage.

5-0 Blackhawks: Marian Hossa (Andrew Shaw, Duncan Keith)

After a few minutes of ho-hum play by both squads, the Jackets finally got on the board. Jack Johnson received the puck from Aaron Johnson, and snapped the puck toward the net. Rick Nash, who hadn't scored in about 45 years, redirected the puck past Crawford.

5-1 Blackhawks: Rick Nash (Jack Johnson, Aaron Johnson)

The goal did little to boost a team down by four goals, with the rest of the game featuring very little in the way of action or intrigue. The 'Hawks were content to dump the puck after stopping every Columbus rush at their blueline.

FInal Score: 5-1 Blackhawks

Standard Bearers:

  • In a 5-1 loss, their aren't many positives. Rick Nash snapping his scoring drought is something, i guess.
  • I thought Savard looked comfortable out there, and made a few nice defensive plays.

Bottom of the Barrel:

  • Seriously?
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