By CRAIG MERZ | Associated Press
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Gustav Nyquist scored two short-handed goals, Joonas Korpisalo made 26 saves and the Columbus Blue Jackets ended a seven-game losing streak with a 4-1 win over the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday.
Emil Bemstrom and Kirill Marchenko scored for the Blue Jackets. Johnny Gaudreau had two assists for his 13th assist in December, tying a franchise record set by Artemi Panarin in 2017.
“We needed this for sure,” Nyquist said. “We’d lost a few in a row and to be able to go into the new year here with a win is nice.”
Andreas Athanasiou scored and Alex Stalock made 34 saves for the Blackhawks, who have one win in 12 games — and that was against the Blue Jackets on Dec. 23.
“It was probably one of our worst performances of the year,” Blackhawks coach Luke Richardson said of Saturday's loss. “Just disconnected. “We’ve had a couple of those this year, not many.
"Our guys, I’ve got to give them credit, they push until the end most nights. Tonight, we were just frustrated.”
Nyquist scored the go-ahead goal in the second period and into an empty net with 39 seconds left in the game.
This was the rematch in the “Bedard Bowl": Connor Bedard is the generational player for Regina of the Western Hockey League and is expected to be the No. 1 pick in the 2023 NHL draft. The Blackhawks are last in the NHL with 20 points, four fewer than the Blue Jackets.
Columbus had not lost eight straight in regulation since the start of the 2015-16 season.
Athanasiou gave Chicago a 1-0 lead at 11:33 of the first period. But Bemstrom tied it 1 at 8:40 of the first period off a feed by Gaudreau.
Bemstrom has two goals in two games since his call-up from Cleveland of the American Hockey League.
“When you’re just enjoying hockey and having fun you get confidence,” Bemstrom said.
Nyquist made it 2-1 at 3:50 of the second period with a short-handed goal before Marchenko upped the lead to 3-1 with three seconds left in the second.
The rookie has four goals in eight games since his second call-up from Cleveland and five goals in 12 games for the Blue Jackets.
Chicago was outshot 14-5 in the second period.
“Stalock made some real unbelievable saves to keep us in the game,” Athanasiou said. “It would have been nice to help him out more but he was huge back there.”
OFF THE ICE
Blue Jackets forward Patrik Laine sat his second straight game while in COVID-19 protocol. He has missed 14 games this season because of injury and illness. … Columbus goalie Elvis Merzlikins replaced Daniil Tarasov as the backup. Tarasov was hit in the mask with a shot during practice Friday. Merzlikins missed the past three games while recovering from COVID-19.
On New Year’s Eve 2016, the Blue Jackets put their 14-game winning streak on the line at Minnesota, winners of 12 straight. The game was the first in any of the four major North American professional sports leagues with each team on a winning streak of at least 12 games, according to Elias Sports Bureau. The Blue Jackets won 4-2 for their 15th of an eventual win streak of 16 games.
Exactly six years later, the Blue Jackets needed to beat Chicago to avoid tying the Blackhawks for the fewest points in the NHL.
Chicago: Hosts San Jose on Sunday.
Columbus: At Ottawa on Tuesday.
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