Blues Can't Climb Back Up the Mountain, Drop 7-5 Goalfest to the Hawks
The Blues brought their two game losing streak to the United Center last night and played what the Versus announcers’ aptly described as a seesaw battle. The Blues fell behind 5-1 midway through the second against the surging Chicago Blackhawks, but were able to scrap all the way back into the tilt. Brad Boyes made it 5-4 with plenty of time left in the third, but unfortunately, the tying goal was not to be had. Pesky Patrick Kane banged home his second goal of the game off a rebound at 13:42 of the third to make it 6-4. Two minutes later Jonathan Toews also scored his second of the game, putting the game out of reach. A David Backes goal at 17:21 was not enough and the game ended 7-5.
Watching the game as a neutral observer, I got the feeling after the game was 5-4 and Quenneville called a timeout and ripped into his team that if the Blues didn’t score right away to maintain the momentum they would ultimately drop the game. That’s exactly what happened. Quenneville’s message sunk in and the Hawks were able to regain control of the script. It was a shame for the Blues' comeback to go to waste, but that’s likely to happen after spotting an experienced team like the Hawks a four goal lead.
Having to do it over again, I’m not sure that coach Davis Payne (who I just realized looks an awful lot like a miniature Chris Pronger) would choose to have Ty Conklin play this game. Saving his first-string goaltender for tonight’s game against the powerhouse Washington Capitals, Payne witnessed Conklin getting pierced for seven goals on twenty-four shots. While not all of the goals were Conklin’s fault, Blues’ fans can’t help but think the result would have been different had Halak been between the pipes.
Of all of the plays last night, I’m sure Conklin would love to have the sixth goal back. As Viktor Stalberg skated through the slot, moving right to left, he fired the puck through the space between Conklin’s pad and arm. That’s a tough spot to make a save, but one that an NHL goalie has to make when his team has clawed back from a 5-1 deficit. The puck hit the right post and found its way onto Kane’s stick for the easy goal. Brewer looked like he was in position to make a play, but he didn’t see the puck and neglected to tie up Kane’s stick.
Unable to snap their two game losing streak, the Blues now sit fourth in the Central Division and are holding onto the last playoff spot in the Western Conference, though they are tied with three other teams (Canucks, Coyotes and Ducks) at 27 points. Hopefully they can build on last night’s third period and grab the two points at stake tonight against Ovechkin and the Capitals.
Looking Forward To: Seeing if Halak can match his play from last year’s playoffs tonight against the Capitals. The Blues need him to play well at home tonight if they are going to nip this losing streak at three games.
Blues Player of the Game: Alex Pietrangelo seemed to be everywhere as the game wore on and his offensive prowess on the blueline was on display. He ended up with a goal and an assist. Vladimir Sobtoka also gets a nod for his three helpers. Finally, I have to acknowledge Cam Janssen, who went toe-to-toe with monster John Scott early in the first. At a serious size disadvantage, Janssen was impressive and held his own after taking a few early shots. Great scrap.