Lackluster Blackhawks suffer blowout loss, missing chance to end skid
Motivation comes in many forms for pro athletes, and the Blackhawks had many reasons to be pumped for Wednesday's game at Columbus.
• Seth Jones and Nick Foligno are both former Blue Jackets, playing a combined 980 games for them in recent years.
• Connor Murphy - a Dublin, Ohio native - still has family living in the area.
• And most importantly, the Blue Jackets had lost nine straight and 14 of 15, and they had just benched star forward Patrik Laine.
This was the perfect opportunity for the Hawks to come out strong, assert their will and snap a four-game losing streak. Instead, we saw one of the most embarrassing losses since Luke Richardson took over as coach last season.
Columbus scored three goals in the first 14 minutes then added four more in the second period en route to a 7-3 victory. The Blue Jackets, who reached their season high in goals after 36½ minutes, hadn't scored seven times in a non-overtime contest since midway through the 2021-22 campaign.
"Not a fun one, that's for sure," Richardson said. "For whatever reason I think we just didn't move our feet well early in the game."
Connor Bedard (10th goal), Jason Dickinson (third) and Ryan Donato (fourth) scored for the Hawks. The final two tallies came in the third period.
Petr Mrazek started in net, but he was pulled after allowing 5 goals on 18 shots.
One interesting bit of news was that veteran forward Corey Perry was scratched. Richardson said it was "an organization decision." Perry has been one of the Hawks' strongest players, with 4 goals and 5 assists.
Forward Taylor Hall was also out with an undisclosed injury.
Boone Jenner scored twice for Columbus (5-11-4), and defenseman Zach Werenski had a career-high 4 assists and a plus-5 rating.
Jenner opened the scoring at 2:57 of the first period after winning a quick board battle with Seth Jones.
Columbus' second goal less than four minutes later came after Connor Murphy, Mackenzie Entwistle and Reese Johnson all failed to win 50-50 battles.
Jenner then made it 3-0 by backhanding a short-range shot past Mrazek. The Hawks' goalie failed to seal off the post, and the puck squirted between his elbow and midsection.
Bedard got the Hawks within 3-1 at 15:41 of the first period with a sizzling snap shot, but the Hawks failed to carry that momentum into the second period.
Instead, they fell apart, allowing 4 goals on 12 shots.
"The second period, there's really no excuse for that," Richardson said. "We collapsed and started chasing around and (were) on the wrong side of the puck. ...
"We talked to the players, and there's obviously ups and downs to the season. This is obviously a down part, but you can only get back up if you take the next step."
Richardson added he hopes that step came in the third period, when the Hawks (5-12-0) showed a bit of fight and managed to score twice.
The Hawks' next game is against Toronto (10-5-4) on Friday at the United Center.