Blackhawks give Columbus 6th straight loss 4-1
CHICAGO (AP) — The Chicago Blackhawks got back to playing tight defense, then the offense followed.
Artem Anisimov and Teuvo Teravainen scored 1:05 apart late in the second period to break a scoreless tie, and the Blackhawks beat Columbus 4-1 on Saturday night, extending the Blue Jackets' worst start in franchise history with their sixth straight loss to begin the season.
Chicago's Marian Hossa added a power-play goal in the third and had an assist as the defending Stanley Cup champions rebounded after consecutive listless losses at Philadelphia and Washington, where they scored only once while giving up seven goals.
Patrick Kane completed the scoring with his fourth goal, shot into an empty net with 1:27 left.
"We know we've got so much firepower here, but I think we have to learn how to play better defensively," the 36-year-old Hossa said. "That's what creates offense.
"It still wasn't great, but we were much better and that's important."
Coach Joel Quenneville has consistently preached a "D-first" philosophy as the Blackhawks have hoisted the Cup three times in the last six years.
"I thought throughout the game we checked well and didn't give up many chances," Quenneville said. "And we had some chances to score; missed a couple of breakaways. But Icy (Anisimov) and the power play got one."
Columbus' Jack Johnson scored on a shot from the left point with 3:39 left in the third period — and former Blackhawk forward Brandon Saad parked in front — to spoil Corey Crawford's shutout bid. Crawford finished with 22 saves for Chicago (3-3-0).
Veteran backup Curtis McElhinney started in goal for Columbus (0-6-0) in place of struggling Sergei Bobrovsky and made 26 saves. He had to stop several breakaways on other prime chances to keep it close for the Blue Jackets, who have not held an opponent to under four goals this season.
McElhinney was sharp in the second, when Chicago came on and outshot Columbus 15-3.
"Our goaltender made some pretty good saves for us in the second period and kept it 0-0," Columbus coach Todd Richards said.
Still, the Blue Jackets were eventually overwhelmed.
"I think the last couple of games here we've just been struggling to find an answer with what exactly is our issue here and how to correct it," McElhinney said.
Added forward Scott Hartnell: "It's embarrassing. A lot of people picked us to be there at the end, to make the playoffs, and we're doing a pretty good job of ruining that right away."
Saad, who skated on Chicago's 2013 and 2015 championship teams, played his first game at the United Center since he was dealt to Columbus in a multi-player trade on June 30 that brought Anisimov to Chicago.
The Blackhawks had said they wanted to keep the 22-year-old Saad as one of their core players, but they didn't have room under the NHL's hard cap for the restricted free agent's $6 million annual salary demand.
"A lot of good memories here, but a tough way to lose tonight though," Saad said.
Anisimov opened the scoring with 4:25 left in the second on a backhander just under the crossbar.
Teravainen was credited with a power-play goal that made it 2-0 with 3:20 remaining in the period when his centering attempt, intended for Anisimov, deflected in off the left skate of Columbus defenseman Dalton Prout.
Hossa made it 3-0 at 7:48 of the third with his first goal this season after stripping the puck from Matt Calvert at center ice during Chicago's 5-on-3 advantage. Hossa then circled back and sprinted down the right wing before firing a low shot from the circle.
"It was lot better watching Hoss do that stuff when I was on his team than it was doing it against us," Saad said. "What a goal he had tonight."
Bobrovksy, the Vezina Trophy winner in the lockout shortened 2012-13 season, has a horrific 5.07 goals-against average and .835 save percentage in five starts.
The Blue Jackets also have been plagued by turnovers in allowing a league-worst 30 goals.
NOTES: Chicago F Vincent Hinostroza played in his first NHL game after being recalled from Rockford of the AHL. ... The crowd of 21,563 cheered Saad during a first-period video tribute. He responded with a subdued wave and lifted his stick to salute the fans. ... Saad set career highs with 23 goals and 29 assists in 82 games last season. He then had eight goals and three assists in the playoffs. ... Despite the announced 332nd straight sellout, there were pockets of empty seats in the United Center as the Cubs played the Mets in Game 1 of the NL Championship Series in New York.