Malcolm Subban pitched a 2-0 shutout to carry the Blackhawks past the Blue Jackets in a much needed low-scoring affair after the previous 6-5 game where they lost multiple leads.
Subban enhanced his season numbers to 3-1-1 with a save percentage of .930 and a GAA of 2.13. He has improved his game markedly ever since giving up 5 in the season opener.
Of the 26 saves on the night, Subban made more than half of them (15) in the 3rd period. Each team didn't reach double-digit shots on goal until more than halfway through the game.
Despite a stronger defensive effort including 14 blocked shots (Columbus had 13), the Hawks were dreadful at the faceoff dot winning only a third of the draws (15 out of 45).
The starting lineup was the exact same as Tuesday night's contest except for Subban between the pipes:
And the starters for the opening shift:
1st Goal: Kane (1-0)
Calvin de Haan attempted to find Alex DeBrincat with a stretch pass but Patrick Kane corralled the puck, beat 2 defenders, and sent a deceptive snapshot that kissed the far corner.
2nd Goal: Soderberg (2-0) EN
Carl Soderberg's empty netter was his 3rd goal in as many games and his 7th point in his last 6 after going pointless in his first half dozen games. He's now at a 0.50 PPG clip.
If there are defensive aspects where the Hawks need to continue refining after some recent regression, they include keeping one defender in the slot and gaining inside positioning.
There are still too many breakdowns where nobody is home to help the goalie protect the net. Even if a defender is nearby, the opponent is able crash the crease and screen the goalie.
DeBrincat has shown courage and hustle all season to chase the puck in dump ins. Even when he gets beat to the puck, he's been willing to play the body and battle to get it back.
Playing a much stronger game last night than the previous outings, Matthew Highmore showed enhanced composure by making smarter reads and executing an effective forecheck.
This weekend as the Hawks host the Red Wings at the United Center, the IceHogs also have a pair of weekend matches in Cleveland to take on the Monsters to close out a 4-game set.
See you on the boards!