Blackhawks Earn Payback with 3-2 OT Win against Columbus

With less than four minutes left in regulation, the Blue Jackets were poised to earn their second consecutive victory against the Blackhawks last night — but Chicago had other plans.

The Blue Jackets opened the scoring early in the first period after Cam Atkinson had forced a turnover by Nikita Zadorov in Coumbus’ zone. The turnover sparked a quick transition with Patrik Laine, who finished the play with a beautiful toe-drag goal around defenseman Nicolas Beaudin’s stick.

Beaudin would make amends early in the second period, scoring his second career goal in back-to-back games. With the Hawks pressuring, Patrick Kane’s shot deflected right to Beaudin, who cashed the rebound after activating from the blue line. Atkinson would break the tie with just over five minutes left in the second period, deflecting a shot by defenseman Zach Werenski for the 2-1 lead.

Columbus looked to be coasting to an easy victory in the third period, dominating the Hawks and eventually outshooting them 12-4 in the frame — but center Carl Soderberg would flip the script. After a fantastic poke-check by rookie Philipp Kurashev, the veteran scored his first goal as a Blackhawk to force overtime.

Patrick Kane and Alex Debrincat would take it from there, executing a give-and-go after a turnover by Columbus’ Nick Foligno. Kane floated the puck towards Debrincat, who was able to twice bat the bouncing sauce-pass past goalie Joonas Korpisalo for the 3-2 victory.

Once again, the Blackhawks’ rookies loomed large in the win. Not only did Beaudin and Kurashev factor in two of Chicago’s three goals, but goalie Kevin Lankinen redeemed himself after a subpar 6-5 loss last game. Lankinen finished the contest with 29 saves on 31 shots (.935 save percentage) and was the third star of the game.

In addition to Lankinen, Beaudin, Kurashev, and Pius Suter, rookie Brandon Hagel is also making his mark in a major way. Although Hagel has not dented the stat sheet like other rookies, his ability to consistently generate grade-A scoring chances is beyond apparent. By all accounts, Hagel has the makings of a solid career NHL’er: tenacious, physical, solid speed, fearless, and strong on the boards. He plays bigger than his size, can generate scoring chances, draw penalties, and even fight, as evidenced by his first period KO of Patrik Laine (a player who has a 5 inch and close to 30-pound advantage).

This game was a major test for a young team coming off an ugly loss in which they relinquished two two-goal leads, including a lead late in the third period. It was also critical for the Hawks to gain points at home before embarking on a six-game road trip beginning Monday against the Detroit Red Wings.

“It’s huge,” said Debrincat. “We kind of gave up two points that last game and obviously we wanted to come out strong tonight. I don’t think we necessarily played our best game, but we gave ourselves a chance and we obviously came out on top in overtime. That’s pretty big for us.”

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