The Chicago Blackhawks have lost just 17 games in regulation this season, but oddly enough four of them have come at the hands of the Winnipeg Jets.
On Friday night in Winnipeg the Blackhawks were able to avoid a season sweep to their divisional rivals with a 5-2 win that was highlighted by an outstanding goaltending performance in the third period by Corey Crawford. With the Blackhawks clinging to a one-goal lead for most of the period, Crawford was a wall in net and stopped 13 of the 14 shots he faced to help shut down the Jets offense and lead his team to its fourth win a row.
Even though the final score ended up looking a little lopsided, this was still only a 2-1 game with less than four minutes to play in regulation while the Jets had generated several prime scoring chances that tested Crawford and could have easily tied the game.
But defenseman Duncan Keith started to help the Blackhawks pull away when a shot from the blue line beat Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck to give them a 3-1 lead. Just one minute later Marian Hossa scored into an empty net to give him his 20th goal of the season. Along with taking over the team lead in goals once again, it was also the 15th time in Hossa’s career that he has eclipsed the 20-goal mark, making him one of just 26 players in league history to do so.
For the Jets, it is their third loss in a row and has now turned this recent stretch into a pretty damaging losing streak when it comes to their already slim playoff chances in the Western Conference as they failed to gain any ground on any of the teams they are chasing. Rookie forward Patrik Laine had an assist on Friday and played 17 minutes after playing just 12 minutes in their most recent game, but finished as a minus-2 and is now a minus-6 over his past three games.
The Jets are back in action on Saturday against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Blackhawks, meanwhile, were able to keep pace with the Minnesota Wild in the race for the Central Division crown after they were shootout winners over the Tampa Bay Lightning.