Corey Crawford gives up 3rd goal Tues vs STL – photo: Yahoo! Sports
By Jon Fromi
The Chicago Blackhawks sported a shuffled lineup Tuesday night in St. Louis. Unfortunately, the result was the same uninspired play that marked Sunday’s loss to Vancouver.
On this night, T.J. Oshie led the way as the Blues prevailed 3-0. In addition to winning new coach Ken Hitchcock’s debut, St. Louis handed the ‘Hawks their second straight loss.
Neither team came out with a lot of fire, likely in part to an emotional ceremony for former Blues Pavol Demitra and Igor Kovolev (also formerly with Chicago) that delayed the start of the contest by several minutes. The two teams skated seven uneventful minutes before it felt like more than an extended pre-game skate.
The Blues opened the scoring at the 8:15 mark of the period. Kevin Shattenkirk brought the puck into the ‘Hawks zone and easily skated away from John Scott’s attempt to halt the play. Shattenkirk found Vladimir Sobotka headed for the net, and Sobotka was able to use some second effort to muscle the puck past Corey Crawford.
Chicago was unable to muster any offense in the opening twenty minutes. The closest they got was Viktor Stalberg’s attempt to stuff one past Jaroslav Halak in the early going. Marian Hossa was wide on a clear shot in front of the net with just over a minute to play, and the teams went into the locker room with St. Louis up 1-0.
The Blues are one of the few teams as inept on the power play as the ‘Hawks have been this season, but when Daniel Carcillo was called for tripping twenty seconds into the middle frame, St. Louis was able to capitalize. T.J. Oshie found the stick of Chris Stewart a minute into the man advantage, and the resulting redirect gave the Blues a 2-0 lead less than ninety seconds into the period.
The Blackhawks were not as opportunistic on three separate power play chances in the second. A tripping penalty by Ian Cole yielded just one shot on goal for Chicago, and consecutive penalties by Oshie and Sobatka also failed to materialize in goals.
Dave Bolland, who left the ice earlier in the period after being struck in the right foot with a shot, poked home a loose puck with 2:55 left, but the referee had blown the play dead and the goal was waved off. Hossa had found Patrick Kane open in front of the net for Chicago’s best opportunity of the period, but Bolland’s finishing move was a second late.
The Blackhawks failed to make a game of it in the final period, coming up empty on a final power play incurred in the sixth minute when Jamie Langenbrunner was whistled for interference. Chicago put up 12 shots on goal in the last twenty minutes, but few attempts were big scoring opportunities.
Oshie iced the game with 6:06 left after taking a pass from Shattenkirk into the ‘Hawks zone on the left side. His wrist shot found its way past Crawford’s glove and into the net for the game’s final tally.
-It sounded like the ceremony for Demitra and Korolev was handled with a lot of class and featured words from Brett Hull and Keith Tkachuk. Marian Hossa was particularly affected. It would have been nice to watch, but Comcast just showed us the lackluster ‘Hawks effort that followed.
–Steve Konroyd mentioned that John Scott was “not out of place on the ice” as Joel Quenneville paired him with Steve Montador to see how he’d handle a regular shift. To everyone’s credit, Scott skated over eleven minutes, including that great unknown expanse we know as the third period. He tried to start something with Ryan Reaves midway through the game. Nothing came of it because Reaves is apparently just big and not stupid.
Scott took a regular shift on defense for the first time that I can remember since he arrived in Chicago. The verdict? He isn’t very good. I’m not sure we needed eleven minutes to come to that conclusion. Despite being badly outmaneuvered by Shattenkirk to set up the first goal, however, I can hardly pin this loss on him.
-Carcillo tangled with Reeves in the first period in defense of Patrick Kane. He didn’t look to eager to get in close to his much larger adversary, but did his job in this instance.
-Halak, he of the .856 save percentage coming into the contest, was made to look like a superman, shutting out the ‘Hawks with 29 saves. It wasn’t a particularly impressive performance in net, but Chicago didn’t push him very hard.
-Bolland was off the ice for a few minutes in the second period after being hit and was being attended to by the trainers following the game. On the other hand, Duncan Keith seemed all right in his return to the lineup.
-The only line that seemed at all effective was the reunited Carcillo-Kane-Hossa group. Jonathan Toews didn’t play very well with Patrick Sharp and Michael Frolik on his wings.
-Crawford didn’t have a terrible game, though Oshie’s goal was one I’m sure he’d like to have another shot at. This was a just a flat effort by a team who should have been determined to rebound from a poor performance Sunday.
–Bryan Bickell was a healthy scratch. Rostistlav Olesz took his place in the lineup. With the return of Duncan Keith and Scott in on defense, both Sean O’Donnell and Sami Lepisto watched from the press box.