It was nearly two full seasons in the making, but Blackhawks rookie goaltender Craig Anderson finally knows what it feels like to win an NHL game.
Not only did Anderson pick up the victory Thursday night, he also added his first shutout as a bonus, stopping 30 shots as the Hawks had a rare laugher with a 7-0 rout of the Columbus Blue Jackets.
"I've been waiting for this first win, and it was great that it was a shutout too," Anderson said. "Now I can just go out and play and not worry about when I'm going to get a win."
For one night, at least, all was right in the Blackhawks' world. Who knows how long the stars will stay aligned, but at least until Saturday night they can they relish their most convincing victory of the season.
"It looks easy when the puck goes in the net," Hawks coach Brian Sutter said. "We started the way we finished last night."
With the exception of allowing two goals in the final 15 seconds of a once-tied game, that is.
The Hawks jumped on Columbus, scoring three times in the opening period against backup goaltender Fred Brathwaite.
Rookie Travis Moen scored his first goal since Nov. 28 when he slid a very stoppable shot between Brathwaite's pads at the 5-minute-43-second mark.
After some strong individual work by Tuomo Ruutu, Bryan Berard picked up a rebound from a Ruutu shot and blasted it past Brathwaite at 7:59 to make it 2-0, and Steve Sullivan pounced on another reboundthis one off a Mark Bell shotto make it 3-0.
"I'd like to see some of the goals that went in go in the last couple games," Sutter said.
Meanwhile, Anderson finally had a few breaks go his way. He watched a pair of shots by David Vyborny and Jaroslav Spacek ring off the post and had a good look at just about every other Columbus shot on the night.
As he did with Michael Leighton after Leighton struggled in Minnesota on Jan. 7, Sutter came right back with Anderson after Wednesday's 4-2 loss to the Wild in which Anderson lost his stick and gave up the winning goal in the final 15 seconds.
"We wanted to get him back in the saddle," Sutter said.
Leighton responded against Calgary on Jan. 8, and Anderson did the same Thursday.
"In this league, you have to win," Anderson said. "That's what the NHL is about. That's why people have jobs."
Bell scored in the second to give the Hawks their first four-goal lead of the season and the game became an embarrassment of riches for a team that has a hard time scoring seven goals in a week when Tyler Arnason, Igor Korolev and Ryan VandenBussche finished up the rout with third-period goals.
One of the oldest cliches in hockey is that the last home game before a road trip is like the first game away.
Though that may be the case, officially the Hawks still will carry a 16-game road-losing streak to Columbus on Saturday for the start of a six-game trip, the last extended one of the season.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times