Dec 292013

By Jon Fromi

After cruising to a five-goal victory over Colorado, the Chicago Blackhawks traveled to St. Louis to tangle with another pesky Central Division foe Saturday night. Like the night before, the Hawks got out to an early lead. However, the contest unfolded a bit differently when all was said and done.

Chicago surrendered two-goal advantages twice, including allowing the Blues to tie the game with two goals in the last few minutes of regulation. St. Louis treated their fans at the Scottrade Center to a come-from-behind triumph, handing the Blackhawks a 6-5 shootout loss.

First Period-Chicago camped out in the offensive zone in the first period and soon began raining rubber on Blues starter Jaroslav Halak. Duncan Keith got in close for a slap shot in the fourth minute that Halak knocked away.

The third line created an opportunity in the seventh minute when Bryan Bickell came in from the right side and got off a shot. Andrew Shaw was there for the rebound but Halak denied the put-back attempt.

Niklas Hjalmarsson got the scoring started by taking a hit in the defensive zone to knock the puck to Jonathan Toews, who in turn sent it along to Marian Hossa. Hossa got it to Patrick Sharp, who split the Blues top defensive pairing of Jay Bouwmeester and Alex Pietrangelo. Sharp went forehand backhand on Halak for his fourth goal in two nights and 7:48 into the game, Chicago took a 1-0 lead.

A little over two minutes later, Shaw capped off the Hawks second goal, this one coming on the power play after Vladimir Tarasenko tripped Kris Versteeg. Duncan Keith sent a shot on net that Patrick Kane deflected under Halak’s right pad. The puck stalled on the goal line by the right post but Shaw was there to knock it in at the 9:55 mark. Midway through the opening period, the Hawks led 2-0.

The Blues got on the board in the 15th minute. Carlo Colaiacovo sent in a slap shot from the blue line that seemed to carom off of Marcus Kruger on the way to the net. Maxime Lapierre completed the play by deflecting the puck past Antti Raanta to cut the Hawks lead to 2-1.

Kane struck with a goal of his own 17:04 into the period, taking a pass from Keith in the neutral zone. Kane skated through traffic to the top of the right circle and fired past Halak’s stick side to put Chicago up 3-1. The score would hold up going into the intermission.

Second Period-The Blues replaced Halak with Brian Elliot and snatched the momentum in the opening ten minutes of the second period. In the third minute, Tarasenko brought the puck up the left side and into the Hawks zone. Jaden Schwartz was there for the centering pass and sent the puck over Raanta’s stick side to make it 3-2 Chicago at the 2:46 mark.

Five minutes later, rookie Dmitrij Jaskin potted his first NHL goal to knot the score at 3-3. The play started with a Chris Porter faceoff win. Bouwmeester took control at the point and sent a shot on goal. Jaskin was there at the left post to put back the rebound with 7:47 into the middle frame.

The goal really set Chicago on its heels as the Blues took control of the action. The Hawks killed a tripping infraction by Sharp and Raanta prevented St. Louis from taking the lead with some quality work.

Late in the period, Ben Smith won a defensive draw against Porter, starting a sequence that would see Chicago bring the puck out of its zone and toward the St. Louis blue line. Smith made another nice play to gain control of a loose puck, entered the Blues zone and sent a shot toward Elliot. The shot rebounded in front of the net where Saad settled the puck and placed a knuckler past Elliot at the 17:46 mark to put the Hawks back on top.

Schwartz had a great chance in the final minute and Raanta had to make a nice glove save on Shattenkirk in the waning seconds. Going into the second intermission, the Hawks held a 4-3 advantage.

Third Period-It took Chicago just over a minute to restore a two-goal lead. Seabrook stopped a clearing attempt by Barrett Jackman just inside the blue line and threw a wrist shot toward the top right corner. The shot looked to be wide but the puck glanced off Elliot’s glove and into the net, making it 5-3 Hawks 1:06 into the third period.

Things seemed to be pointing to Chicago closing the game out, but the Blues are also capable of lightning strikes late in games. Late in the 16th minute, St. Louis made its move.

Tarasenko brought the puck into the Hawks zone, skated into the right corner and found Pietrangelo back out at the point. The shot glanced off either Kruger or Keith and was wide but came off the boards and out to the face off dot. Tarasenko was lying in wait and did the rest, skating to his left and burning Raanta on the stick side to cut the lead to 5-4 at the 16:04 mark.

On the following shift, St. Louis got the puck in deep and Hjalmarsson was called for holding Brenden Morrow with 3:08 to play. The Hawks penalty kill had been perfect in three previous attempts but with the game on the line Chicago gave one up.

Seabrook had two chances to send the puck out of the zone along the boards but failed to do so. Patrik Berglund took control, came in from the left side and slipped in a backhand shot that got past Raanta. The place was up for grabs as the Blues tied the contest at five with 2:34 to play. For the second time in three meetings with St. Louis this season, the Hawks were headed to overtime.

Overtime-The only play that mattered in the extra time was Elliot’s stop on a Toews breakaway late in the fourth minute. Toews gained control of the puck after Saad forced a turnover by T.J. Oshie. The captain bore down on Elliot but the attempt was snuffed out by the goalie’s pads. With the outcome still in question, the teams went to the shootout.

Shootout-Oshie and Toews led off with goals, Oshie with a backhand off the crossbar and in and Toews with a sweet five-hole backhand. This was followed by Tarasenko pushing a one-handed shot that Raanta got a pad on but couldn’t keep from crossing the line. Sharp answered with a shot past Elliot. Raanta denied Chris Stewart but Elliot responded by stopping Kane’s attempt.

Schwartz and Hossa were next, with the goalies holding firm. Shattenkirk zipped his wrister past Raanta’s stick side and Saad was stopped by Elliot to end the proceedings.

Three Stars-Schwartz (third), Berglund (second) Tarasenko (first)


-Ugly loss. Even on the road. Even having played the night before. The Hawks were in the driver’s seat twice and couldn’t get it done. The Blues were rested but had several key names in their lineup out due to injury and sickness. Toews and Kane both had chances to pick the Hawks up that second point in the post-regulation play. Of course, it never should have come to that.

-Being on vacation in Iowa, I found myself having to watch to the Fox Midwest broadcast with John Kelly and Darren Pang. Two things:

     * Kelly is one of those broadcasters who refer to Niklas Hjalmarsson as “Jermelsson” on a continuous basis. Five or six times into the butchering it gets a little old but I didn’t mind the rest of his call.

     *Panger thought the Berglund shot went off of Keith’s skate, but I have watched the play several times and all I see knocking the puck home is the back of Berglund’s blade.

Also, Seabrook isn’t apparently as good a player as he is when Pat Foley and Eddie Olczyk call the game.

-Raanta was quite pedestrian on this night, giving up five goals on 25 shots. He made some athletic saves when the game was tied in the second period but seemed to really be playing deep in his net.

-Kane’s point streak is now up to 14 games with a goal and two assists Saturday, if anyone cares.

-Next up for the Hawks is another Western Conference contender when Chicago hosts the Kings Monday night.






Jon Fromi

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