Coming into Thursday night, the Blackhawks had won six games in a row against the Blue Jackets.
Thankfully, that streak is over after the Blue Jackets marched into the United Center and took two points from their former Central Division rivals. On the strength of goals from Boone Jenner, Yegor Chinakhov, Max Domi, Patrik Laine (x3), and Oliver Bjorkstrand, the Blue Jackets took down the Blackhawks, 6-4. Elvis Merzlikins got the win after stopping 28 of 32 shots.
In the early going, Dylan Strome was sent to the penalty box for hooking Laine. Jenner got the scoring started for the visitors on the ensuing power play. Blackhawks netminder Arvid Soderblom turned away Jakub Voracek's initial shot, but Jenner was there to pounce on the rebound and give the Blue Jackets an early advantage. It was Jenner's team-leading 20th goal of the season and his seventh power-play goal. With 20 goals in 48 games, Jenner is on pace for 34 goals, which would be a new career-best.
13 seconds later, Chinakhov doubled the Blue Jackets' lead, firing a wrist shot past Soderblom after Gustav Nyquist intercepted a pass in the Blackhawks' defensive zone. Fellow rookie Cole Sillinger picked up the secondary assist on Chinakhov's sixth goal of the season.
Then, the Blackhawks roared back. Andrew Peeke took a holding penalty on Strome, and Philipp Kurashev found the back of the net on the power play. Three minutes and 53 seconds later, Ryan Carpenter scored his first goal of the season to level things at two apiece.
The Blue Jackets responded with what would be the final goal in a wild first period. Sean Kuraly forced a turnover in the neutral zone, then Chinakhov banked a pass off the boards to find a streaking Domi, who hadn't found the back of the net since January 6th. He beat Soderblom with a whistling wrist shot and put the Blue Jackets back in the driver's seat.
Just nine seconds into the middle frame, Laine restored the two-goal cushion for the Blue Jackets. Vladislav Gavrikov dumped the puck deep into the Blackhawks' end, and it came to Laine, who flung the puck on net. It trickled past Soderblom for Laine's 14th goal of the campaign. According to the Blue Jackets, Laine's goal was the fastest goal to start a period in team history, besting efforts from Rick Nash (10 seconds vs. PIT, 1/11/06) and Cam Atkinson (10 seconds @ EDM, 2/28/13).
The rest of the period saw each team kill off two minor penalties. Strome hooked Jenner at 3:38, then Zach Werenski hooked Carpenter at 4:47 to nullify the remaining 51 seconds of the Blue Jackets power play. Gavin Bayreuther caught Alex DeBrincat with a high stick at 7:11, then Josiah Slavin was called for holding Voracek at 10:05.
After several minutes of scoreless second-period power-play time for each team, the Blackhawks found a goal at even strength. MacKenzie Entwistle found space in front of Merzlikins and buried a rebound to make it a one-goal game with 1:58 remaining in the second period.
Laine struck again in the third period to give the Blue Jackets their third two-goal lead of the game. Jenner won the draw in the Blackhawks' zone, and Laine fired a wrister through traffic that eluded Soderblom, making it 5-3 in favor of the visitors.
Exactly one minute later, DeBrincat pulled the Blackhawks within one goal. Unfortunately for the Blackhawks, the Blue Jackets had an answer for every goal tonight, and Bjorkstrand scored his 15th of the season to once again extend the Blue Jackets' lead to two goals, making it 6-4.
Laine added his third on an empty-netter with five seconds remaining. He had eight as a member of the Winnipeg Jets, but it was his first hat trick as a Blue Jacket. The Finnish forward now has 16-15-31 in 29 games this season.
The Blue Jackets (24-23-1, 49 points) will return home to host the Buffalo Sabres (16-25-8, 40 points) on Sunday evening. Puck drop is slated for a slightly earlier-than-usual 6:00 pm EST.