Blackhawks 4, Blues 2
Last night, in a game that I think was key for the Blackhawks to try and gain some momentum going to a big game on Sunday against Detroit, the Hawks were able to do some offensive damage on special teams, picking up two power play goals and one of the short-handed variety, and this would help them knock off the St. Louis Blues by a score of 4-2, in front of a nice crowd of 16,149 at the United Center.
The Hawks would get off to another good start in this one, the second game in a row that they have come out of the gates and controlled the play right from the opening face-off. Maybe Denis Savard has finally gotten these players to understand that you can't come out flat at home and let the visitors skate circles around you.
Despite this, the Blues actually were able to get on the board first in this one, when Steve Wagner let a shot go from the point on a St. Louis power play, and with a lot of traffic in front, Hawks goalie Patrick Lalime probably never saw it, and it got by him to give the Blues a 1-0 lead with about 8 and a half minutes to go.
The 'Hawks would get that one back with about 5 minutes left in the 1st period. After getting a power play, Patrick Kane just used his speed to gain the St. Louis blue-line, and after making a nice move he let a wrist shot go that would flutter off Manny Legace's glove and into the net, tying the game up at a 1-1 score.
Just about 3 minutes later, the 'Hawks would be on the power play again and would take advantage by grabbing the lead. Jim Vandermeer would take a pass at the point on this play, and just let a one-timer go with a ton of traffic in front, and similar to the Blues' first goal, I don't think Legace ever saw it, giving the Blackhawks a 2-1 lead that they would hold into the intermission.
At the beginning of the 2nd period, the Hawks would get a very quick goal, just 16 seconds in, a short-handed one in fact. After the puck was dumped into the Blues' zone, it came to Duncan Keith at the point who just threw the puck at the net, and Rene Bourque was stationed in front, and the puck just simply hit his body and deflected into the net, giving him his first goal of the season and a 3-1 lead for the Blackhawks.
After that goal, the Blackhawks really controlled the play completely and really spent a lot of time cycling and getting scoring chances in the St. Louis zone. If not for some big saves by Legace, this could have easily been a blowout in Chicago's favor.
However, about 11 minutes into the 2nd, St. Louis would pick up their 2nd power play goal of the game, when 19 year old rookie David Perron had some room to work with in the Hawks' zone, and simply let a wicked wrister go that would beat Lalime top shelf, cutting the deficit down to 3-2 for St. Louis. Perron looks like he has the potential to be a good offensive player for St. Louis in the future.
The 'Hawks would enter the 3rd still with a 3-2 lead, and they began to sort of use the "shell" technique, playing very conservatively and not creating many scoring opportunities. I'm not a big fan of that strategy by any means, because I think it backfires more often than not, but in this game it worked for Chicago and they were able to seal the deal with an empty net goal by Yanic Perreault with about a minute remaining, giving them a 4-2 victory.
These last two wins over Columbus and now the Blues have been impressive to say the least, because the 'Hawks are getting off to better starts at home and really outplayed both teams by a wide margin in these victories. The Ruutu-Toews-Kane line continues to be amazing, and I think this team is really going to hit its stride when Havlat returns, which apparently could be soon. The Hawks also looked better defensively, doing a better job of limiting the scoring chances for the Blues.
Could Patrick Lalime be starting again on Sunday? It's a tough decision for Savard, and if it were me I'd have a hard time sitting him tomorrow night. Although I think Khabibulin only had a couple of bad games, Lalime seems hot right now and making some big stops. You might want to ride the hot hand in a game that I think will be very important.
SCH Hawks Player Of The Game: I'd like to give it to the entire RTK line, but I'll just give it to Patrick Kane, who picked up a goal, an assist and was creating scoring chances all night.