CHICAGO — The Columbus Blue Jackets had tired legs and a fresh Joonas Korpisalo.
On Friday night, at least, it was enough.
Korpisalo made 31 saves and Oliver Bjorkstrand had a goal and an assist, sending Columbus to a 2-1 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks.
“We weren’t as sharp as we like to be, but Korpisalo was easily our best player,” coach John Tortorella said.
The Blue Jackets have one of the NHL’s best goaltender tandems in Korpisalo and Elvis Merzlikins, and that duo played a key role in consecutive wins. A night after Merzlikins had 33 saves in a 3-2 shootout victory over Florida, Korpisalo took over.
He stepped up as Chicago pushed for the tying goal, denying Patrick Kane in front about seven minutes into the third. He also caught a break when Carl Soderberg’s shot through the goaltender’s legs was just wide with a couple minutes left.
“Korpy made some huge saves,” Bjorkstrand said.
Eric Robinson also scored for Columbus, helping Korpisalo get the win against good friend and fellow Finn Kevin Lankinen. The Blue Jackets extended their point streak to seven.
Lankinen made 25 saves in his fifth career start — all this season.
“That was really fun,” Korpisalo said. “I think it’s been like six or seven years since we played against each other. He won that one, so that was great to win today.”
Dylan Strome scored for Chicago, which had recorded at least one point in five straight games.
“It’s tough to come from behind against a team like that and they’ve got really good goaltending,” coach Jeremy Colliton said. “But I thought we did a lot of good things, and we did more than enough to score more than one goal.”
The Blue Jackets jumped in front on Bjorkstrand’s power-play goal 8:53 into the first period. Mattias Janmark had a chance to clear the puck out for Chicago, but Columbus kept it in and Cam Atkinson found Bjorkstrand in the left circle for a one-timer.
The Blackhawks pushed for the tying goal early in the second, but Strome had a wraparound attempt knocked away by Blue Jackets defenceman Vladislav Gavrikov.
“It was a game I thought we played well enough to win,” Strome said. “Did a lot of good things and felt like we had the puck quite a bit but came up short.”
After Chicago had an extended stay in Columbus’ zone, the Blue Jackets got it out and the speedy Robinson skated out on a breakaway. He beat Lankinen on the glove side for his second goal of the season and a 2-0 lead at 3:39.
Bjorkstrand got the only assist on the play. He has three goals and five assists in his last seven games. He almost picked up another goal in the third, but Lankinen used his glove to push away his shot from right in front.
Chicago got on the board when Kane found Strome in the slot for the centre’s third goal, making it 2-1 midway through the second. The connection gave the Blackhawks at least one power-play goal in eight of their nine games this season.
Columbus forward Jack Roslovic played 14 minutes on his 24th birthday. The Columbus native was acquired in a blockbuster trade with Winnipeg last week that also moved Patrik Laine to the Blue Jackets in exchange for Pierre Luc-Dubois and a third-round draft pick.
The teams play again Sunday night. Then Columbus opens a four-game homestand against Dallas on Tuesday night, and Chicago hosts Carolina on Tuesday night.
Jay Cohen can be reached at https://twitter.com/jcohenap
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Jay Cohen, The Associated Press