By Jon Fromi
The Chicago Blackhawk got a big effort from goalie Corey Crawford Sunday to post a huge come from behind victory over the St. Louis Blues before a sell-out matinee crowd in the United Center.
Crawford outdueled Blues goalie Brian Elliot, stopping 29 of 30 St. Louis shots and keeping Chicago in the game until they put up three third-period goals to claim their third straight win. Elliot allowed just two goals on 27 Blackhawks shots, but at the end of the day, it was Crawford who stood the tallest in net.
Chicago was stifled by the Blues defense in the opening period. The Blackhawks came up empty on a pair of power play opportunities early in the first and went over 15 minutes without a shot on goal.
Crawford and the ‘Hawks defense kept the game scoreless until the final minute of the period. Patrik Berglund got off a shot on goal that Crawford attempted to flop on. However, the puck slid behind him, where Jamie Langenbrunner kicked it toward the goal line. Andy McDonald took a swing at the puck before it crossed the goal line to make it a legal play. The play was reviewed and upheld, and Chicago went to the locker room down 1-0.
The Blackhawks came out with more zip offensively in the second period, but couldn’t convert a delay penalty by Vladimir Sobotka three minutes in. Crawford kept St. Louis out of the net despite some defensive zone turnovers and a Chris Stewart breakaway attempt midway though the period. Chicago outshot the Blues 9-7 for the period, but the score remained 1-0 after forty minutes.
St. Louis was 25-1-1 when leading after two periods, but on this afternoon the Blackhawks were able to rally over their division rival. Five minutes into the final period, Jonathan Toews hauled in a loose puck in his own zone and found Patrick Kane with the outlet pass. Kane brought the puck into the Blues zone and found Patrick Sharp at the left circle.
After winding up for a shot, Sharp slid the puck to Duncan Keith, who fired a slap shot past Elliot’s glove to tie the contest. Crawford then stopped an attempt by McDonald that resulted in the goalie being knocked off his perch along with the net when Keith and Bryan Bickell came crashing into the crease.
Blues captain David Backes had a hand, or rather a skate, in the eventual game winner when Keith found Dave Bolland beside the net with just under seven minutes remaining. Bolland’s centering pass struck Backes’ skate and across the goal line to put the ‘Hawks up for the first time of the day.
Crawford made it stick as time wound down in the contest. St. Louis employed an extra attacker in an attempt to force overtime, but Marian Hossa iced the game with the empty netter with 50 seconds to play.
-After watching the replay of McDonald’s goal, I’m still not totally convinced that he got a stick on the puck before it crossed the goal line. It looks like John Scott’s blade was what made contact.
-Scott was dragged down from behind by Ryan Reeves in the closing seconds, leading to a short bout that ended when Scott’s momentum took him and Reeves to the ice. Reeves completed the heel sequence by throwing punches to the back of Scott’s head when he was face down on the ice. That should make for an interesting rematch.
–Duncan Keith had a hand in the two key goals and was a plus-three on the afternoon. After allowing 15 St. Louis shots in the first period, the defense limited the Blues to 15 shots in the final two periods.
-Crawford has likely earned the net against Detroit Tuesday night with three straight solid starts. For the first time this year, he stole a game for the ‘Hawks.
–Dylan Olsen played almost 20 minutes and was a plus-two for the game. With Niklas Hjalmarsson potentially back on Tuesday, it will be interesting to see how the pairings will change.
-Tuesday’s game with the red-hot Wings gets underway at 7:00 p.m.