The Blackhawks finally recorded a win in 2012, though it came against the worse team in the NHL. It wasn’t a masterpiece, but the Hawks battled hard and found a way to put the Blue Jackets away and record a 5-2 victory.
Viktor Stalberg has owned Columbus this season, and his good fortune continued against them on Tuesday night. Stalberg recorded his first NHL hat trick and Marian Hossa got back on track with a solid plus three performance.
Stalberg is starting to have a nose for the puck and a scoring touch. Offensively, he is going to the correct spots and working hard. On the defensive side of the puck, Stalberg still has lessons to learn. If he can keep his focus in all three zones, Stalberg could have a nice career.
Forward Ben Smith was called up and played well as he recorded his second tally of the season. His buddies from the Rockford Ice Hogs, Kevin Hayes and Andrew Shaw, each had slightly over 18 minutes of ice time. Joel Quenneville has shown a lot of confidence in Shaw and he used him on the penalty kill against the Jackets. Both Hayes and Shaw continue to fit in nicely.
Steve Montador took 19 minutes in penalties during the first period. Montador got an instigator penalty, two extra minutes for fighting with a visor, a five minute fighting major and a 10 minute misconduct.
That meant the Blackhawks had to kill off some penalties, which led to a lot of ice time for Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook. To the Hawks credit, although outshot 11-5 in the first frame, the Blue Jackets were held scoreless. The Hawks then scored twice in the middle period and never relinquished the lead.
The Blue Jackets peppered Corey Crawford with 34 shots and he came up with some big saves. Crawford gave the Hawks a chance to win, but he didn’t look too comfortable doing so. Crawford is still having trouble absorbing shots. He is struggling with rebounds but hasn’t received the best support from his defenders.
Nick Leddy looks shaky in his own zone and has been caught off guard by opposing players near the net. Leddy’s playing time was down Tuesday night to only 15:02. He finished a minus two on the game and is a cumulative minus nine over his last four outings.
The stress of playing big minutes appears to have caught up with Leddy.
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