Saturday, April 05, 2014
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Smith's Goal In Final Seconds Lifts Blackhawks Past Blue Jackets

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[April 05, 2014]  COLUMBUS, Ohio  No Toews. No Kane. No problem for the Chicago Blackhawks.

Right winger Ben Smith scored with 3.9 seconds remaining, leading the Blackhawks to a 4-3 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday night before 18,695 at Nationwide Arena.

"It was a huge game for us," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "Very timely on the goal. We had a lot of people at the net, and we hung around and got rewarded in that case."

The Blue Jackets have dropped 13 straight to the Blackhawks, falling to 0-10-3 dating to the 2010-11 season.

This one stings the most, though, as it sets back the Blue Jackets in their pursuit of an Eastern Conference playoff berth.

"It's a gut punch," Blue Jackets defenseman Dalton Prout said. "But we can't suffer over this one too long, just get it out of our minds quick and keep moving in the right direction."

The Blackhawks have won two straight without right winger Patrick Kane and center Jonathan Toews, their second and third leading scorers.

The Blackhawks also got goals from left winger Jeremy Morin, right winger Patrick Sharp and right winger Marian Hossa. Defenseman Duncan Keith had two assists.

Blackhawks goaltender Antti Raanta, giving No. 1 Corey Crawford a rest, finished with 24 saves.

Smith was awarded the winning goal after a lengthy review by off-ice officials, who tried to sort through the mayhem in front of Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky as the closing seconds ticked off the clock.

The sequence started with a point shot from Chicago defenseman Duncan Keith that caromed off Bobrovsky's shoulder.

"The first shot almost went in, and I don't think (Bobrovsky) saw it," Smith said. "It was a mad scramble in front of the net and somehow it went in."

Center Derek MacKenzie, center Ryan Johansen and center Artem Anisimov scored for the Blue Jackets. Bobrovsky stopped 34 of 38 shots.

The Blue Jackets remain in eighth place and the second wild-card spot with five games remaining, but they've got Toronto, Washington and New Jersey in hot pursuit behind them.

The Blue Jackets took a 1-0 lead only 1:32 into the game when MacKenzie  coming full speed through the slot  sprawled into the air and buried a rebound off a shot by Jackets left winger RJ Umberger.

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The Blackhawks pulled even late in the first when Morin, who has spent most of the season in the minor leagues, scored on a low wrister from the right circle through a web of legs.

The Jackets scored early in the second period, too.

Johansen, enjoying a breakout season, snapped a wrister from the right circle that Raanta was not expecting, the puck scoring under the crossbar. It was Johansen's 31st goal of the season.

The Blackhawks scored twice in a 6 1/2-minute span later in the period to take the lead for the first time.

Sharp scored a power play goal at 4:14  his 32nd goal of the season  and Hossa got past the Blue Jackets' defense and buried a clean shot at Bobrovsky to make it 3-2 at 10:42.

The Blue Jackets did not trail for long, though.

Just 2:05 after Hossa's goal, and just 15 seconds into a power play, Anisimov centered the puck from behind the net and watched it bounce off the leg or skate of Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson before going in behind Raanta.

NOTES: Blue Jackets LW Nick Foligno, who has a career-high 18 goals this season, suffered a lower-body injury on Thursday in Philadelphia and will miss the rest of the regular season. The Blue Jackets said he could return for the Stanley Cup playoffs if they qualify. ... A fan seated in section 114 of Nationwide was struck with a puck early in the first period and needed help walking out of the seats to seek medical help. The Blue Jackets did not provide an immediate update. ... Blackhawks C Michal Handzus, who was a healthy scratch on Thursday against Minnesota, remained in Chicago to get rest, the club said. ... Blue Jackets D Ryan Murray returned to the lineup for the first time since having arthroscopic knee surgery in early March.

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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