Subban Earns Shutout in Blackhawks’ 2-0 Win Over Blue Jackets

After relinquishing two two-goal leads against the Columbus Blue Jackets one game prior, it was imperative for the Blackhawks to prove they can close out games in regulation. With Malcolm Subban in goal, the Hawks did just that last night, overcoming a subpar first period and holding on for a 2-0 victory.

Subban was called upon early in the contest, as Chicago struggled to find their legs early. After a turnover by Nikita Zadorov in the Hawks’ zone, Subban stoned Columbus’ Seth Jones with a beautiful post-to-post save, keeping the game scoreless. The Blackhawks would generate only 3 shots in the period, compared to the Blue Jackets’ 8 shots.

Luckily, the Blackhawks would completely flip the script in the second, outshooting Columbus 12-3. Although the period would end scoreless, Chicago dominated play, forcing goalie Joonas Korpisalo to come up large for the Blue Jackets. It was Korpisalo’s second consecutive start after giving up five goals in Columbus’ 6-5 shootout loss to Chicago the game before.

The goalie duel lasted until midway through the third, when it was broken by none other than Patrick Kane. Fresh off the bench, Kane quickly corralled the puck in the neutral zone, catching Columbus off guard while speeding down the right flank. Kane then snapped a wicked wrister past the blocker-side of Korpisalo. In addition to being his 10th goal and 31st point of the year, the goal was also Kane’s 399th of his career. The superstar forward continues to make a case for MVP this year, trailing only Edmonton’s Connor McDavid (40) and Leon Draisaitl (34) in points this season.

“It was a big goal for the team,” Kane said after the win. “I think more important than anything was just that it gave us the lead and gave us a chance to get two points. It was obviously a pretty tight game. I think both teams were kind of grinding it out and trying to play tight, so it was nice to just get a break and be able to capitalize on it.”

Carl Soderberg would ice the game for Chicago, scoring an empty-net goal from his own zone with less than a minute to play. Although the Blackhawks’ penalty kill had been trending downward recently, the Hawks killed both penalties in the game, including an early third-period tripping call on rookie Philipp Kurashev. Although he didn’t show up on the scoresheet, rookie Brandon Hagel continued his strong play this season and was noticeable on both sides of the puck — generating scoring chances and making the right play defensively.

Much like the Blackhawks as a whole, Malcolm Subban had faced much scrutiny heading into the season, but the young netminder has seemingly found his stride. In his five games played this year, Subban has a 3-1-1 record, a 2.13 goals-against average, and a .930 save percentage. His 26-save win marked his first shutout of the year and second of his career. Assuming both Subban and starting goalie Kevin Lankinen can continue to trend upward, the Hawks may have finally found their next goaltending tandem for the foreseeable future.

“‘Subby’ has just been really good every time he’s gotten a chance to play,” Kane said. “It’s been pretty impressive, both of them (Subban and Lankinen). I’m sure they’re trying to fight for their chances to get in the net and show what they can do, but they work so hard at practice and maybe that’s paying off.”

The win wraps up a five-game road trip in which the Hawks finished with a 4-1 record. Taking 3 of 4 points was critical against a Columbus team that was right on Chicago’s heels entering the contest. With the same amount of games played between both clubs (21), the Blackhawks are now five points ahead of Columbus in the standings. The win also propelled Chicago into the third playoff seed over the Carolina Hurricanes.

“Big win. Didn’t like our start. We were passive, took too long to move the puck,” head coach Jeremy Colliton said. “Excellent response in the second period… It was a battle. Tight game, but I thought overall, over three periods, we did a lot of little things that allowed us to stay in the game until we could score.”

The Blackhawks will now open a five-game home stand, beginning with a back-to-back series against the Detroit Red Wings this Saturday. It will be imperative for the Blackhawks to accumulate as many points as they can during this home stand, as their entire March schedule will be the toughest stretch of games they will have all year. In addition to a six-game road trip, 12 of the 14 games in March will be played against the division’s (and arguably, the league’s) top opponents in the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Florida Panthers, the Dallas Stars, and the Carolina Hurricanes.

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