You could've looked at the Blackhawks' victory in Pittsburgh and perhaps added an asterisk. The Penguins were beat up, and they were no match for the Blackhawks' complete game.
On Friday the Blackhawks faced a healthy Columbus Blue Jackets team and put forth the same great 60-minute effort. No asterisk needed.
There were a few great performances out of this one — you could even include Columbus goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, who made some outstanding stops against the Blackhawks. But we'll break things down a little more in the notables.
What worked: The pace. For both teams, it was outstanding. Perhaps the Blue Jackets deserve even more credit for the pace they had in this one, considering they played on Thursday night in Carolina and plane issues forced them to delay their flight to Chicago until Friday morning. Regardless, two of the league's best looked it on Friday. Honorable mention to the Blackhawks' penalty kill, which went 4-for-4 against the league's ninth-best power play.
What didn't work: The Blackhawks' faceoffs. It was another not-so-good night from the circle for the Blackhawks, who went 15-for-45 against the Blue Jackets. Tanner Kero, who had a decent night in Pittsburgh, went 2-for-11 on Friday. Marcus Kruger won five of his 13. It ultimately didn't hurt the Blackhawks on Friday, but they definitely need to be better in that department.
Star of the game: Patrick Kane. He didn't finish with a goal, but he garnered three assists, setting one more milestone that we'll get to below. His second assist was a well-timed pass to Marian Hossa on what proved to be the game-winning goal. The other two went to Artemi Panarin, who scored bookend goals for the Blackhawks. Honorable mention to Corey Crawford. He was solid throughout but great late, when the Jackets were looking for the game-tying goal.
He said it: "Hossa's one of those guys who scored some big goals early on and some big goals lately. But you know the best part of his game is the little things he does. He's a consummate pro and makes guys around him better. He's great for our young guys to watch him prepare and play, plays the right way with or without the puck and finishing is definitely good for our team and good for him as well," coach Joel Quenneville said about Hossa.
By the numbers:
50. Victories for the Blackhawks this season, the second time they've hit that mark in franchise history. The other season was 2009-10, when they finished with 52 victories.
750. Career points for Kane, thanks to his three-assist night against the Blue Jackets.
350. Career assists for Toews, who had the secondary assist on Panarin's power-play goal in the first.
26. Goals this season for Hossa, the most for him since the 2013-14 season (30). Hossa, who has four goals in his last six games, now has 525 for his career.