COLUMBUS, Ohio – One team kept its foot in the playoff race, the other seems to be fading out.
Cam Barker, Patrick Kane and Andrew Ladd paced Chicago with a goal and an assist each, and the Blackhawks snapped a four-game losing streak by beating the Columbus Blue Jackets 6-3 Friday night. Both teams entered seven points behind the post-season cutoff in the Western Conference.
Duncan Keith, Dave Bolland and Dustin Byfuglien also scored for Chicago, who jumped to a 3-0 lead in the opening frame.
“We started very well,” Blackhawks coach Denis Savard said. “We were ready to play, bottom line. Everyone played a solid game. That’s what we have to continue to do if we want to get to the playoffs.”
Patrick Lalime made 29 saves for Chicago, including a huge stop on Rick Nash from close range in the final minute of the second period with the Blackhawks leading by one.
Fredrik Modin, Dan Fritsche and Nash tallied for the Blue Jackets, who have won only one of nine home games.
“We were really poor in our own zone,” Columbus coach Ken Hitchcock said. “We weren’t poor with our coverage, we were poor with the puck.”
The Blue Jackets staged a rally to get back into the game.
Nash, playing his first game since being named Blue Jackets captain, cut Columbus’ deficit to 4-3 at 7:15 of the third period with his team-leading 36th goal. But Byfuglien pushed Chicago’s lead back to two goals three minutes later with his 17th.
Ladd made it 6-3 with a power-play goal with 3:23 remaining.
“We just talked about coming out with lots of energy and getting on the body, getting lots of pressure all over the ice,” Ladd said.
Barker scored his fifth of the season at 1:00 of the opening period on the Blackhawks’ first shot. His drive from a tough angle at the boards near the left circle got over goalie Pascal Leclaire.
Keith made it 2-0 on the power play at 11:21, snapping home a pass from Robert Lang.
Just 1:51 later, Kane curled a backhand shot through traffic that Leclaire couldn’t hold. Bolland smacked in the rebound for his fourth of the season, drawing boos from the home crowd.
Hitchcock pulled Leclaire, who allowed three goals on six shots, and replaced him with Fredrik Norrena.
“The game was lost in the defensive end,” Nash said. “It’s clear we were giving up too much and weren’t battling hard enough.”
The Blue Jackets scored two goals 27 seconds apart to get within 3-2 in the second period.
David Vyborny weaved through traffic and left a pass for Modin, who missed the previous four games due to a sore groin. He fired a shot through a screen to beat Lalime at 6:27 on the power play. Columbus was 1-for-35 with the man advantage its previous 10 games.
While the goal was being announced, Jared Boll, from behind the net, fed Fritsche inside the right circle for a quick shot and his 10th goal.
“We made mistakes on a couple goals, but we kept our composure,” Savard said. “I like the poise that we had. We never panicked, kept going at them and got a good result.”
Kane made it 4-2 at 12:00, nudging a puck over the goal line as it sat near the outstretched Norrena.
Nash beat Lalime with a floater in the third from the right circle.
“I thought we played a pretty good, full 60 minutes,” Byfuglien said. “That’s what you need to do to win games.”
Notes: Chicago is in danger of missing the playoffs for the fifth consecutive season. The Blue Jackets have never qualified in their seven-year history. … Nash is the fifth captain Blue Jackets’ history. … The teams will meet twice more this season. … The Blackhawks scored four goals in the first period of their last game against the Blue Jackets, a 7-2 win at Columbus on Feb. 13.