Rick Nash scored his NHL-leading 29th and 30th goals to help the Blue Jackets to a 4-3 victory Saturday night that extended the Blackhawks’ road losing streak to a franchise-record 17 games.
“That was the difference in the hockey game, just how it was called,” Chicago coach Brian Sutter said after the Blue Jackets tied a franchise record with 13 power-play chances, scoring on two. “Let’s put it this way—them hauling us down and them calling penalties against us. It got to borderline ridiculous.”
The Blackhawks, who routed the Blue Jackets 7-0 just 48 hours earlier, have not won a road game since beating Nashville 2-1 on Nov. 7.
Sutter declined to comment and several players were spirited away before they could be asked about the losing skid.
“We weren’t really thinking about that,” center Scott Nichol said. “After a 7-0 win, we were just thinking about getting the puck on goal.”
Selected this week to the Western Conference All-Star team, Nash is just four goals off the team record of 34 set last season by Geoff Sanderson in 82 games. Nash’s 30 have come in 49 games.
“I really never thought I’d be here,” said Nash, the overall No. 1 pick in the 2002 draft. “I owe a lot to the team and to the power play. Almost half of them are power-play goals. (David) Vyborny assisted on about 80 percent of them, so I owe a lot to him.”
Fourteen of Nash’s goals have come on the power play.
After Sullivan scored short-handed, Nash clogged the slot to tap in Rostislav Klesla’s wrist shot from the left circle.
The Blackhawks were whistled for two more penalties and weathered 1:23 of a two-man disadvantage before Columbus scored on the second power-play chance when Malhotra jammed in a rebound.
It was the eighth goal for Malhotra, a waiver-wire pickup from Dallas in November, to tie his career high.
“I think my confidence right now is at an all-time high,” Malhotra said.
Nash then notched his 30th when defensemen Nathan Dempsey and Burke Henry both went for Columbus rookie Nikolai Zherdev behind the goal cage and he slipped a centering pass to Nash, who was alone in the slot for an easy score.
“The first one was lucky, the second one I owe a lot to Veebs (Vyborny) and Zherdev,” Nash said. “He made a nice play.”
After Wright tapped in a loose puck for his fourth early in the third period, Ruutu followed Bryan Berard’s one-timer with a rebound goal for his sixth.
Sullivan added his 10th in the final minute with Chicago’s goalie off for an extra skater.
“It shouldn’t have been a contest, but we let them back in,” said Gallant, 5-4-3 as a head coach. “The guys were embarrassed the other night so theywanted to come back and win.”
The longest previous Chicago road losing streak came in 1954 when the Blackhawks lost their final 16 road games. … Each team came in with 36 points, tied for last in the Western Conference. … Berard had two assists forChicago.