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Blackhawks' circus trip starts with thud
As much intensity as the Blackhawks displayed in beating the Detroit Red Wings at home Sunday night, they looked just as lifeless Wednesday night at Nationwide Arena.
After stressing all week in practice the importance of kicking off their six-game trip in the right fashion, the Hawks watched as the Blue Jackets snapped their three-game winning streak 4-2.
Columbus entered the game on a four-game skid but got better against the Hawks as Rick Nash, Sergei Fedorov and Jason Chimera each scored a goal and added an assist. With the defeat the Hawks dropped to 10-8 on the season, 4-3 on the road and 4-2 during an eight-game stretch against Central Division opponents.
"We won three games in a row and we took too much for granted," said Hawks winger Tuomo Ruutu, who had one shot on goal in 17 minutes 59 seconds of ice time. "You have to be ready to pay a price and we didn't, so that's why we didn't get two points and they definitely deserved their two points."
The Hawks actually held the lead Wednesday night after Duncan Keith scored at the 12-minute-24-second mark of the first period. Keith picked up a loose puck and fired a slap shot past Blue Jackets goaltender Pascal Leclaire for his third goal of the season. Keith had two goals in 82 games last season.
After that it was all Columbus. It got goals from Nash (his 12th) in the first and Fedorov and Dan Fritsche in the second period. Chimera scored with 10:02 remaining in the third for the Blue Jackets' fourth unanswered goal before the Hawks' Dustin Byfuglien closed out the scoring with 2:31 remaining.
"Our emotion from the last game, we couldn't match it," Hawks coach Denis Savard said. "They showed a lot more determination and I'm hoping the reason for it is the fact we came off a big win at home."
The victory catapulted Columbus, which began the season 8-3-2, past the Hawks into second place in the Central Division with 21 points.
"We're a good team," Chimera said. "We did the things we needed to do to win. We did the little things right and it was nice to see."
Columbus entered the game with the NHL's top penalty-killing unit, negating 90.8 percent of opponents' man advantages. They added to that lofty number as the Hawks went 0-for-3 on the power play.
"We just have to forget this game," Ruutu said. "We didn't play too well. We weren't ready. We wanted to get two points with the easy game, but there isn't an easy game for us in the league. We have to prepare every game the same way to get two points and even then it's tough to win."
The Hawks left immediately after the game to head to Nashville to face a Predators team Thursday night that is 5-0-1 in November.
"You want to get off to a good start [on the trip] and we didn't," Savard said, "but the good thing about hockey is we get at it again tomorrow and hopefully we bring our emotion back up and play the type of game that we can because we've proved in the past that we can."
One-timersDefenseman Brent Sopel, who participated in the morning skate, was a scratch with the flu. Magnus Johansson, who hadn't played since Oct. 31, a span of five games, replaced him in the lineup. Defenseman Andrei Zyuzin was a healthy scratch. … Nikolai Khabibulin will be in goal Thursday in Nashville and Saturday in Detroit.