Blackhawks break through offensively, earn long-awaited win against Blue Jackets

The Hawks raced to an early lead and translated that into a 5-2 victory Friday, snapping an eight-game overall losing streak and 11-game home losing streak just before the NHL’s Christmas break.

SHARE Blackhawks break through offensively, earn long-awaited win against Blue Jackets
Patrick Kane, Max Domi and Tyler Johnson celebrate a goal.

The Blackhawks erupted for a 5-2 win over the Blue Jackets on Friday.

AP Photo/Paul Beaty

Last week in Minnesota, defenseman Caleb Jones predicted the offensively snakebitten Blackhawks would “break through and score five or six one night” soon.

Jones had to wait a few games longer than he hoped, but the dam finally broke for the Hawks in a 5-2 victory Friday against the Blue Jackets.

The win snapped the Hawks’ eight-game overall losing streak and 11-game home losing streak at the United Center — in front of a hardy announced crowd of 17,108 — and sent them into the NHL’s three-day Christmas break with some much-needed satisfaction.

“We definitely needed it,” Jonathan Toews said. “It’s nice to see pucks go in and hard work being rewarded a little bit. There’s no replacing finding that success in games like that, when things have been going the way they’ve been going. It feels good as a group.”

Toews and Patrick Kane both tallied three points, Max Domi added two points and goaltender Alex Stalock made 28 saves in his return from injury.

For only the second time since Nov. 10, the Hawks finally scored the first goal of a game on a Kane snipe, which unleashed him for his own long-awaited big night.

That unexpected early momentum powered the Hawks to three more consecutive goals, with Taylor Raddysh finally chasing Columbus starting goalie Daniil Tarasov by making it 4-0 early in the second period. The Jackets battled back for a while, but Toews’ third-period power-play goal squashed any worries about a rally.

“Another thing we’ve been working to get better at is, when we do get leads, not getting too relaxed or too uptight — one or the other,” Toews said. “You just have to play your game and try to make things hard on them and force them to make mistakes, because they have to create the offense to get back in the game. We did a pretty good of that overall. [We] drew some penalties and kept them in their zone for most of the third.”

Coach Luke Richardson attributed the success to the team’s “excellent” practice Thursday, when they identified and worked on some defensive coverage issues.

One particular problem — in which the Hawks would get “anxious to go get [the puck] quicker” and double-team one opposing player before pinning him, allowing that player to find teammates left open behind the defense — was less frequent Friday.

“Really it’s just [about] the elimination of that first man,” Richardson said. “Then we can all react behind that and the next guy, the closest guy in, maybe scoops that puck and goes [the other way]. I saw it a few times tonight, so I would like to continue to see us get better at that. Maybe they can realize that it leads to more offense — it did tonight.”

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