There's no place like home for the Blackhawks.
Unfortunately, the National Hockey League demands its teams play half their games on the road, and that's where the Hawks have struggled this season.
The Hawks traveled to Columbus to face the Blue Jackets on Saturday night as one of two teams in the league yet to win away from home. They came back to Chicago with a little something extra in their luggage — a victory.
The Hawks defeated the Blue Jackets 4-3 in a shootout before 14,680 at Nationwide Arena. The triumph improved the Hawks' record away from home to 1-3-1 and overall mark to 5-3-3. It also snapped the team's skid in shootouts as it prevailed for the first time in four tries.
Goaltender Cristobal Huet helped the Hawks steal a game in which Columbus got off 51 shots — second most in team history — with 41 saves in regulation, seven in overtime and all three Blue Jackets attempts in the shootout.
"They're a team that throws the puck to the net, and I think we worked very hard," said Huet, who improved his record to 2-2-1. "We still made a few mistakes, but overall we corrected them throughout the game. It was just a great road win."
Jonathan Toews, who saw his goal-scoring drought reach all 11 games this season, beat Columbus goalie Fredrik Norrena in the shootout for his third successful shootout goal in three attempts this season.
"It's big for us to come in here and steal one on the road," said Toews, who scored with a wrist shot. "Once you start winning and you get one or two wins under your belt on the road, you build that confidence. You believe in yourself when you play in other teams' buildings."
Patrick Sharp, Brent Seabrook and Martin Havlat scored goals for the Hawks, but the Blue Jackets tied the game 3-3 on Kristian Huselius' goal with 7 minutes 52 seconds remaining in the third.
Hawks penalty killers were solid, stopping Columbus on nine of its 10 man advantages, including one in the overtime. The unit also held strong while the Blue Jackets were on a power play for 5:25, including 17 seconds with a two-man advantage, midway through the second period.
"I don't think we controlled the game the way we wanted to, but that's a character win," Toews said. "We did exactly what we had to do to win the game. You have to be happy with that, but we're not going to rest on our laurels. We have to be smarter and learn from the mistakes we made and be better on Monday (at home vs. Colorado)."
Seabrook's and Havlat's goals came while the Hawks were on two of their four power-play attempts.
"We got outworked on the special teams, [and] that's a big factor," Blue Jackets center R.J. Umberger said. "You'll run into goalies who play well like that, but penalty kill has to be better and on the power play we had our chances and we didn't score."
Huet stopped Huselius, Rick Nash and Jakub Voracek in the shootout while Norrena stopped Sharp.
"Over the course of the year you get some goalie wins, and that was definitely a goaltender win," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "Huet was great."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun