Blue Jackets 5, Blackhawks 2
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP)—In a contest between teams once again sitting out the playoffs, Mark Hartigan had a game he’ll never forget.
Hartigan scored twice and added an assist in the third period for his first career multipoint game to lead the Columbus Blue Jackets to a 5-2 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday night, tying the franchise mark with their fifth straight win.
“I want to try to make a statement that I can play here,” said Hartigan, whose 25 games with Columbus this year almost match his previous NHL time with Atlanta and the Blue Jackets. “I’m trying to make the team for next year.”
Hartigan had not scored in 18 games before tying the game at 2-2 just 4:49 into the third period. After assisting on Jaroslav Balastik’s go-ahead goal, he added his fourth goal of the season for a 4-2 lead.
After weeks of having little go right, suddenly Hartigan could do nothing wrong.
“It was right around the corner: he was hitting posts, he was just missing nets,” Blue Jackets forward Rick Nash said. “Finally they started going in for him tonight. That’s a big night for him.”
The Blue Jackets, who trailed 1-0 in the second period and 2-1 early in the third, have come from behind to earn points in 14 games since Jan. 1— including eight in which they trailed in the third period.
“I think we might like playing from behind for some reason,” Hartigan said. “We just keep battling and stay in there and try to play our game. Luckily, we’re finding ways to win.”
They’ve scored four goals in the third period twice in their current streak, including a 5-4 shootout victory at Detroit a week ago.
“Our defense was asleep at the wheel—probably the worst game they’ve played as a group this year,” Blackhawks coach Trent Yawney said. “There’s no excuse for that.”
With the score tied at 2, Jason Chimera’s backhand centering pass found Balastik for a one-timer midway through the period.
After Nash sliced through the high slot to put a power-play shot on goalie Craig Anderson, Hartigan was there to tap in the rebound to push the lead to 4-2 with 4:28 remaining.
“There’s one good thing about the new NHL: You have a chacne to come back in every game if you don’t dig yourself too big of a hole,” said Marc Denis, who had 27 saves for Columbus.
Bochenski opened the scoring in the second period. It was his seventh goal of the year but his first in a Chicago uniform—and came in his 11th Blackhawks game since he was acquired from Ottawa along with a second-round draft pick for Tyler Arnason on March 9.
With time winding down in the period, Zherdev brought the puck across mid-ice and then released a shot from the top of the right circle. It slipped between the skates of defenseman Jim Vandermeer and eluded Anderson for Zherdev’s 27th.
The teams traded goals in a 33-second span of the third period.
First Calder extended his streak to nine games—during which he has seven goals and four assists—when he converted a pass from Mark Cullen.
Hartigan then scored his second goal in the last three games. He waited with the puck until he glided to the right hash before unloading the shot.
“I want to take advantage every time I go out there,” he said. “Tonight was a good night for me.”
Cullen’s assist gave him a five-game points streak. … The game was the first of three meetings in the teams’ final 10 games. … Hartigan’s three points in the third period tied a team record. … The five-game win streak ties the club mark set between Jan. 24 and Feb. 2 of this season.