Blues 3, Blackhawks 1
In a game that was pretty important between two rivals that are extremely close to each other in the standings, the Blackhawks put up a pretty lame road effort in St. Louis, getting outskated pretty much all night long and eventually falling 3-1 to the Blues on Saturday night.
It was clear the Blues had more jump in their skates from the opening faceoff. Right away they were picking up chances against Hawks goalie Patrick Lalime and the Hawks were on their heels for most of the 1st period. About 3 minutes in to the game, the Blues picked up a quick goal to take the lead.
On this play, Lee Stempniak picked up the puck in the Hawks' zone and had way too much room to work with, a clear path to the net in fact, and he stickhandled nicely and backhanded it past Lalime and into the net, giving the Blues an early 1-0 advantage in this one.
The 1st period would end with the Blues still up 1-0. In the 2nd, just four minutes in, St. Louis would dent the net again to go up by a two goal advantage. This is due to Brent Seabrook falling down at the Blues' blue-line, enabling St. Louis to go in on a 2-on-1, and D.J. King put the puck through Lalime's five hole, giving the Blues a 2-0 lead early in the 2nd. Although it was a great scoring chance, I think this is one Lalime should have stopped, and he'd probably like to have it back as well.
Later in the 2nd, with about seven minutes remaining in the period, the Blues picked up another goal, in a 4-on-4 situation. On this play, Keith Tkachuk sent a pass to Mike Johnson at the blueline in the Hawks zone, and Johnson simply sent a one-time rocket that found it's way past Lalime and into the net. This gave the Blues a 3-0 lead that they would hold into the 3rd period. The Hawks had just 9 shots through the first 40 minutes of this one.
Things didn't look too much better in the 3rd period. The Blues pretty much play the trap whenever they get the lead, so while the Hawks picked up at least a few scoring chances in the 3rd, it wasn't enough to seriously test Blues goalie Hannu Toivonen, who only had to face 18 shots from the Hawks in this one.
Midway through the 3rd, the Hawks would at least break up the shutout, when Robert Lang skated into the St. Louis zone and just sent a nice wrister past Toivonen and into the net, cutting the lead down to 3-1.
The Hawks would probably have their strongest part of the game in the last 9 minutes or so, at least testing Toivonen a bit, but he was up to the challenge and Chicago eventually would wind up dropping this one to the Blues.
I don't know if the Hawks were still basking in the glow of the great performance against Phoenix or something, but they just didn't seem to have much energy tonight and St. Louis took advantage. It was a great week to knock off the Coyotes and Lightning convincingly, but it's disappointing to end it with a lame effort and a loss. But, time to move on, as the Hawks are back in action Wednesday at home against the Canucks.
SCH Hawks Player Of The Game: Um, I guess Robert Lang, who picked up the only Hawk goal of the game.