ST. LOUIS – The St. Louis Blues hosted the Chicago Blackhawks Tuesday night. The Blues won this Central Division showdown, putting three pucks past Corey Crawford to secure victory. With newly appointed coach Ken Hitchcock behind the bench, the Blues looked as if they had something to prove in shutting out their division rivals.
Vladimir Sobotka started the scoring 8:15 into the first after receiving a crisp pass from Kevin Shattenkirk. Shattenkirk danced into the zone and slid the puck to Sobotka, who snuck behind the Chicago defense. As Sobotka tried to toe drag the puck around Crawford, the puck ended up going in off Crawford’s stick.
The second period started with an early Blues’ power play after Daniel Carcillo took a kneeing penalty. The Blues capitalized on their power-play chance when Chris Stewart deflected a TJ Oshie shot in. Despite falling down by two, the Blackhawks continued to battle. Hitchcock referred to the environment as being “like a playoff game out there” in a post-game interview.
Late in the third period, Oshie netted the third Blues’ goal, squashing any chance of a comeback by the Blackhawks. After an airborne pass from Shattenkirk, Oshie wristed a shot that Crawford could not get all of.
A struggling Jaroslav Halak looked like the goalie the Blues’ anticipated in acquiring him; Halak was positionally sound, playing confidently at the top of his crease. Though not tested with extremely difficult shots, Halak made 29 saves to claim victory.
There were few weaknesses in the Blues’ performance on Tuesday. However, the Blues were guilty of allowing penalties to disrupt their offensive flow. In the first, while Jamie Langenbrunner and Jason Arnott penetrated the Blackhawks’ zone, Ryan Reaves dropped the gloves with Carcillo, eliminating the Blues’ scoring chance. In the second, Oshie took a bad hooking penalty that silenced solid offensive pressure that caught the Hawks’ third defensive pairing stuck on the ice.
This was game one of a five game homestand for the Blues. They take on the Toronto Maple Leafs at Scottrade Center on Thursday night. The game airs at 7 p.m. CST on Fox Sports Midwest.
- The night began with a tribute honoring the “38s.” Both Igor Korolev and Pavol Demitra wore the number 38 for the Blues and both were killed in the tragic Lokomotiv Yaroslavl crash in September that claimed the lives on the entire KHL team.
- The Blues are still missing David Perron, Kent Huskins, Andy McDonald, and BJ Crombeen due to injury. There is no set timetable for any of their returns. The Blues lost Scott Nichol in the second period of this game; he left with an upper-body injury and did not return.
- Chris Stewart looked much better in Tuesday’s game than he has prior. He scored his first goal in eleven games and put in quality time on the penalty kill. He was moving his feet and skating with a purpose—a change from his last few games, in which he has looked lost.
- Halak earned his 17th career shutout.
- The Steen/Arnott/Langenbrunner line continues to play solid, mistake-free hockey. They have, undoubtedly, been the Blues’ best line this season.
- Ian Cole saw his first action as a call-up in this game. It is possible he’s challenging for a roster spot or being dangled as trade bait. Either way, Cole played a solid game and has a rocket shot from the point.