It was a bit anticlimactic, but it was still poignant that the Chicago Blackhawks played the Columbus Blue Jackets on the night the NHL announced that its Board of Governors had approved plans for realignment that would begin next season. The game was the last time the two teams will play as Central Division and Western Conference rivals, at least for the next three years.
The game was uneventful until the second period, when both teams scored. After sending the game into overtime and then the shootout, it was Patrick Kane who buried the game winner, this time behind Sergei Bobrovsky. Kane also picked up an assist on the Blackhawks’ lone goal by Johnny Oduya. It was Kane’s 400th career point.
Not to be forgotten was the play of Bobrovsky, who made some highlight reel saves in the game. He frustrated the Blackhawks to no end, even stopping Nick Leddy’s shot and immediately lunging to stop Dave Bolland’s rebound in overtime. He was named first star of the game for his 39 saves on the night.
After tonight, the two teams will not only be in different divisions but different conferences. The Blue Jackets will be sharing their division with teams such as the Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers, while the Blackhawks will be bunking with the Minnesota Wild and Colorado Avalanche. They will now only see each other twice a season in a home-and-home situation.
Thus ends the Blackhawks’ series with the Blue Jackets for the season. They come away with a 4-0 record and a healthy amount of respect for a team that refuses to die at the bottom of the standings. When they meet again next season, it’ll be like old times.