The Jackets played their butts off tonight, but were unable to capitalize on various powerplay opportunities en route to a 1-0 defeat at the ends of the Blackhawks.
The Blackhawks came into tonight's game with a record unbeaten streak to start the season. The Jackets were looking to play spoiler, but were unable to stop the 'Hawks domination of the Western Conference.
First Period Notes:
- Columbus gave the start to Steve Mason, while Corey Crawford returned to the Chicago net.
- There's no arguing the fact that the Blackhawks are a far more talented team than the Jackets, but the first period showed that hard work can bring down any team. The teams both had various scoring chances, with Columbus getting the better looks.
- The Jackets' penalty kill was excellent in the first period. Even with their top two PKers out of the lineup in Artem Anisimov and Brandon Dubinsky, the Jackets continue to frustrate teams with an aggressive kill. I'm of the opinion that killing penalties is 50% hard work and 50% goaltending, and the Jackets have been getting that this season while down a man.
- The powerplay is another story altogether, but I was encouraged by the play of Tim Erixon on the man advantage. With Marcus Kruger in the box for snowing Mason, Erixon and James Wisniewski were lobbing bombs on Crawford for most of the powerplay. Erixon has been steady this season, but we haven't yet seen his full capabilities in the offensive zone. More powerplay time will give us a better look at his offensive tools.
- On two occassions, Derick Brassard had clean looks at an open net, but misfired on the first chance, and was stopped by a sprawling Niklas Hjalmarsson. Brass, R.J. Umberger and Cam Atkinson are starting to regain some of the chemistry they showed at the end of last season.
- Score after the first: 0-0
Second Period Notes:
- The success on the penalty kill continued early in the frame when the Jackets held the 'Hawks off the scoreboard while Vinny Prospal was in the box. Though they can rely on their kill for keeping them in games, a parade to the penalty box against a team like Chicago is just asking for trouble.
- Steve Mason, ladies and gentlemen. After a lazy turnover by Wisniewski, Marian Hossa skated in on Mason untouched. He shot, but Mason shut the door. The competition for starts has been great for both he and Bob this season, but unfortunately the Jackets haven't been able to give either the run support required to win consistently.
- The Jackets almost broke the goose egg minutes later, when Vinny Prospal was sent in on a breakaway while on the powerplay. Vinny fired, beat Crawford, but the puck found iron. Count me among the group that figured that Vinny would not be able to put up numbers in this shortened season, but I'm more than happy to eat crow, with Vinny leading the team in goals.
- With 1:27 left in the period, the 'Hawks broke the tie. Andrew Shaw was left untouched in front of the net, and fired the puck past Mason after receiving it from behind the goal line.
- Score after the second: 1-0 Chicago
Third Period Notes:
- The third period didn't feature any outstanding moments, rather it was 20 minutes of back-and-forth play, with each teams getting their chances on net.
- The story for the Jackets tonight though, was their lack of production on the powerplay. There was no flow to the powerplay, and the dearth of talent was obvious, once again.
- The Jackets pulled Mason late in the game, but were unable to tie the score with the extra attacker.
Final Score: 1-0 Chicago
1) Both goaltenders were excellent tonight.
2) Tim Erixon had a pretty good game, he was showing more with the puck than he has in any game prior.
3) The CBJ penalty kill was strong again tonight.
Bottom of the Barrel:
1) James Wisniewski had a bad game. He had passes going all over the place, and was unable to get his shots on net.
2) The Columbus powerplay. Yikes.
The Jackets return home to face the Stars on Tuesday.