Blackhawks defeat Blue Jackets 4-1 in final preseason game

Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook (7) during the first period of an NHL hockey game Friday Dec. 8, 2017, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Matt Marton)

by Scott King

Blackhawks Goaltender Cam Ward was looking to prove the organization could lean on him to fill in for Corey Crawford, who’s not expected to be ready for the season opener. Crawford should begin practicing with the team early next week according to coach Quenneville.

Ward’s last preseason start in a Hawks’ sweater was one both him and Quenneville wanted to toss out.

“Not good,” Ward said of Tuesday’s performance in which he allowed seven goals in an 8-6 loss to the Detroit Red Wings on home ice. “Definitely was a rough game personally. Obviously got off to a rough start right from the get go. They got a fortunate bounce right in front and put it in. Unfortunately just wasn’t able to get comfortable throughout the game.

“It was just one of those games. Whether it’s preseason or not, you want to put forth a good outing and a good effort. Tonight just wasn’t the night and I’m going to do what I can to flush it away and not let it ruin my training camp and just get ready for the next one.”

Ward only faced four shots in the first period of Saturday’s contest against the visiting Columbus Blue Jackets. He only had to fend off five in the second and eight in the third. Ward went on to stop 16 of 17 Columbus shots.

“Certainly better, yes,” Ward said of Saturday’s start compared to Tuesday’s. “We talked before the game, you know, ending on a good note on the preseason and to make sure we get that winning feeling going into the first game of the regular season.

“I thought the guys played real well in front, you know, a lot of blocked shots and not a whole lot of action. But, you know it was a good test for me because anytime that you don’t get any work, it’s a test mentally to kind of stay in the game and be ready because in this league, all it takes is one chance and it could be in the back of the net. So yeah, real pleased. Obviously we’ve got a few practice days to sharpen up and look forward to Ottawa.”

Brent Seabrook scored on the Blackhawks first power play at 8:49 in the first period. The blueliner is attempting to shoot more on the man advantage this season.

“Trying to,” Seabrook said. “Trying to get shots through. The forwards on opposing teams do such good jobs of getting in lanes and taking that away from us defensemen, but at the same time our forwards do a good job of getting us in good spots and good lanes and as defensemen we’re just trying to get the puck on net and try to get it through. Sometimes it goes in and sometimes we can make a play.”

Artem Anisimov scored with 3:07 remaining in the first period to put the Hawks ahead 2-0.

Brandon Saad got the Blackhawks third goal at 9:23 in the second period.

Patrick Kane kept the puck on a two-on-one with Nick Schmaltz at 12:03 in the second and scored stick-side on Blue Jackets goaltender Joonas Korpisalo to extend the Hawks lead to 4-0.

Kevin Stenlund scored on a Jackets power play to get Columbus on the board with 10:40 left in the third period.

The Blackhawks went on to win the preseason finale 4-1. They take on the Senators in Ottawa on October 4 to start the regular season.

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