Blackhawks 3, Blues 2
Patrick Sharp, you are my hero.
Proving that Jason Williams isn't the only guy on this team who can come up with awesome, flair-for-the-dramatic goals, Sharpie was able to put home two key short-handed tallies in the 3rd period that would help the Blackhawks pick up a road victory in St. Louis, 3-2 over the Blues.
This was the second straight game for the Hawks in which the first 2 periods didn't have a ton of action but the 3rd proved to be very interesting.
In the 1st period, it was a pretty tightly played contest with neither team getting a ton of scoring chances for the most part. However, the Hawks would get on the board first thanks to a newly arrived defenseman.
With the puck in the St. Louis zone, Rene Bourque (who, in my opinion, had his best game yet this season) dropped the puck back to Dustin Byfuglien, who was just recalled from Rockford today, and he let a big slapper go from just inside the point that went over Manny Legace's shoulder and into the net, putting the Blackhawks up 1-0.
The Hawks held that one goal lead until there were about five minutes remaining in the 1st, when the Blues picked up kind of a weird goal.
Doug Weight had the puck near the corner in the Hawks' zone, waited patiently and then threw it towards the front of the net, where rookie David Perron was skating towards. Perron was taken down by Byfuglien as he went to the net, but the puck hit him on the ground and sneaked it's way past Nikolai Khabibulin and across the goal line.
The goal was reviewed and it was decided that it was indeed a good goal. I guess the question was whether or not Perron had kicked the puck in, because replays showed a bit of a kicking motion, but there was not really any conclusive evidence to overturn the initial ruling, so the score was tied at 1 heading into the 2nd period.
The 2nd period almost put me to sleep. Honestly, I have to give credit to the Blues and, more specifically, their coach Andy Murray. He has seemed to have installed a more defensive system for St. Louis and it is working for them. They still allow their talented players to make plays offensively, but Murray makes sure they are responsible in their own zone. You saw it when the Hawks played St. Louis in October; it's real tough to get scoring chances against them now.
The 2nd was an example of this, because the Blues didn't allow much room for the Hawks to work with, but the same could be said for St. Louis' offensive attack. There was just not much offense generated by either team, and they headed in to the 3rd still tied 1-1.
Much like the game in Dallas, the contest started to open up a bit in the 3rd period. The Blues picked up a power play about 6 minutes in, looking to take the lead.
However, on a broken play by the Blues in the Hawks' zone, Patrick Sharp was able to knock the puck loose at the blue-line and spring himself for a breakaway. He made a great deke by faking a shot and then burying it on the backhand, making it 2-1 Blackhawks with about 12 minutes to go.
Unfortunately, the Blues found a way to get this one deadlocked again with about 5 minutes left in the 3rd. On another odd play, Paul Kariya was able to steal the puck at the Hawks' blue-line and skate it on goal. He moved around a couple of Hawk players nicely, but then pretty much lost control. However, he was able to advance the puck towards the goal, and it deflected off Jim Vandermeer's stick and into the net.
Just over a minute after the Kariya goal, the Hawks committed another penalty and the Blues had another opportunity for a big goal. However, it turned out to benefit Chicago in the end.
With the puck in the Blues' zone, Rene Bourque tried to send a slap shot in on goal, but he didn't get much on it and it was blocked rather easily. However, it rolled towards the slot where Sharp was, and he picked it up and sent a nice wrist shot past the glove of Legace to give the 'Hawks a 3-2 lead with just about 2 and a half minutes to go.
I think the Blues were pretty stunned after the last Sharp goal, and they couldn't get much of a counter-attack going in the last few minutes, so the Hawks hung on for the win.
Both teams worked pretty hard in this one and deserved a victory. I thought the Hawks did a good job of shutting down the Blues' main offensive threats, like Kariya and Tkachuk, and what more can you ask from the special teams unit with 2 short-handed goals?
One thing to note is that Jonathan Toews' 10 game point scoring streak was snapped, as neither he nor Patrick Kane were on the scoresheet tonight. However, their other linemate, Tuomo Ruutu, might not have ended up getting a point, but he really had a terrific game. He was very physical and worked hard on every shift. That RTK line really is something special to watch.
SCH Hawks Player Of The Game: Who else? I am forced to give it to Patrick Sharp, who picks up two shorthanded goals in the 3rd period, the last of which was the game winner.