Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#55 Chicago Blackhawks 5.5 vs.
#56 Columbus Blue Jackets -120
Tuesday, February 23, 2021 at 7:05pm EST
Nationwide Arena, Columbus
Written by Chris Kubala

This article covers a past game!

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It’s a battle of Central Division teams on the ice in the Buckeye State. The Chicago Blackhawks are on the road as they make a trip to face the Columbus Blue Jackets Tuesday night. Chicago comes in off a 5-3 road defeat to Carolina in their previous contest on Friday night. They were originally scheduled to face Carolina again Saturday but had that contest rescheduled. Columbus was dropped 4-2 at home by Nashville Saturday night to wind up with a split of that two-game series. The teams split four earlier meetings this season, all in the Windy City, with the Blackhawks earning a 3-2 overtime win in the most recent matchup on February 13.

Chicago Blackhawks Rested and Ready

Chicago ended up falling short on Friday night against Carolina in their previous contest but they’ve had three days off to rest and prepare for this one. The Blackhawks entered Monday third in the Central Division, three points behind the Hurricanes for the top spot and two points ahead of fifth-place Columbus to remain in the playoff picture. Chicago is 18th in scoring offense as they average 2.89 goals per contest this season. The Blackhawks are 16th in the league in goals-against as they allow 2.84 goals per contest on the year. Chicago is fifth in power-play success as they convert 32.2% of their chances with the man advantage on the year. The Blackhawks are 15th in penalty killing as they successfully get through 80% of their shorthanded situations this season.

Against the Hurricanes Friday night, the Blackhawks battled but were buried in a third-period avalanche that sent them to just their second loss in the last eight games. The opening period saw Chicago with a 9-7 edge in shots on goal but they trailed 1-0 after 20 minutes of play. In the second period, the Blackhawks were outshot 15-10 but outscored the Hurricanes 2-1 to tie the game at two after 40 minutes of action. After falling behind 2-0, Patrick Kane got the Blackhawks on the board with his eighth of the season at 16:39 off an assist from Alex DeBrincat to halve the deficit. Late in the period, Ian Mitchell scored his second of the year off assists from Kane and David Kampf at 19:49 to tie the game. In the third period, Chicago was outshot 16-10 and outscored 3-1 to take the loss. After giving up three unanswered goals to trail 5-2, Carl Soderberg closed the scoring with his second of the year, on the power play, at 19:09 off assists from Kane and Adam Boqvist. Kevin Lankinen made 33 saves for Chicago, who was outshot 38-29, in the loss. He’s expected to get the start in goal again for this contest.

Columbus Blue Jackets Hoping to Earn Home Victory

Columbus ended up with a split of their two-game set at home with Nashville as they were dropped on Saturday night. The Blue Jackets enter this one fifth in the Central Division, five points behind Carolina for the division lead. In the playoff race, the team stood one point behind Tampa Bay for the final playoff spot though the Lightning has four games in hand. Columbus is 19th in the league in goals for as they average 2.84 goals per contest. The Blue Jackets are 26th in goals against as they allow 3.32 goals a night on the year. Columbus stands 23rd in the league in power play success as they successfully convert on 15.2% of their chances with the man advantage. The Blue Jackets are 27th in penalty killing as they successfully get through 73.8% of their shorthanded situations on the year.

In Saturday’s game, Columbus had their struggles on the offensive end of the ice and couldn’t handle a blitz early in the third period to wind up with the loss. The first period saw the Blue Jackets outshot by a 16-6 margin and they trailed 2-0 on the scoreboard after 20 minutes of play. In the second period, Columbus was outshot 19-10 but outscored Nashville 2-0 to tie the game at two after 40 minutes. Boone Jenner got the Blue Jackets on the board with his sixth goal of the year, shorthanded, at 3:46 off assists from Scott Harrington and Nick Foligno. Later in the period, Gabriel Carlsson tied the game with his first of the year at 5:28 off assists from Oliver Bjorkstrand and Mikhail Grigorenko. The third period saw the Blue Jackets outshot 10-7 and outscored 2-0 as they gave up the two goals in the opening 45 seconds of play. Elvis Merzlikins made 35 saves before leaving with an arm injury while Joonas Korpisalo stopped all six shots he faced in relief as the Blue Jackets were outshot 45-23. Korpisalo will get the start in goal with Merzlikins out indefinitely with the arm injury.

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Columbus is playing their third game in five nights here while Chicago has had three days off since their last game. These teams split four meetings earlier this season in the Windy City and both these teams have played more games than most of their divisional opponents. The loss of Merzlikins is a big blow to Columbus as it will put more pressure on Korpisalo to step up and improve his play in goal. Chicago has gotten better play than expected from Lankinen as he’s been sharp in net this season and has stolen the #1 job. The Blackhawks are rested and they find a way to come up with the win here as the Blue Jackets struggle offensively again.

Prediction: Chicago Blackhawks +115

Full-Game Total Pick

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The Blackhawks have seen the under go 11-8 in their games on the year. Chicago has seen an average of 5.74 goals per game on the season coming into this contest. As the road team, that number drops down to only 5.18 goals a night. Columbus has seen the under hit in 10 of their 19 contests this season. The Blue Jackets have an average total of 6.16 goals a night on the season. That number shifts upward to 6.30 goals per game on home ice. The under has hit in five of the last six meetings. This season, the teams have combined for three, four, 11 and five goals. Seeing the way things have gone with these teams, you have to think another 3-1 or 3-2 type of game is in the offing. Look for this one to fall short of the total.

Prediction: Under 5.5
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Written By Chris Kubala , "Chris Kubala"

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