Hawks tune out the Blues 4-2

The St. Louis Blues are probably not opera fans, but boy they heard the fat lady sing early with approximately four minutes left in the game the Blackhawks took control with a 3-2 lead and never looked back. There was so much to like in this game if you are the Hawks and a Hawks fan.

The Hawks are often guilty of not playing a full 60 minutes, but that was not the case in this one. Up by only a goal late in the third the Hawks not only never let the Blues out of their own zone to challenge, they sealed the win with a Marian Hossa empty netter.

The puck possession was the best they’ve had late in games this season. The Hawks dominated the entire third period with a 12-3 shots on goal advantage. Now that is being engaged in a game.

The third and fourth lines contributed with goals by Marcus Kruger and Bryan Bickell also had an assist to go along with his goal on the Marian Hossa power play goal.  It was good to see them get rewarded and even if those lines don’t score getting offensive chances keeps other defenses and goalies honest.

David Rundblad righted himself in this game and got an assist on the Bryan Bickell goal. It’s always good to get out of the dog house and to contribute.

The power play made the difference in what has been harped on repeatedly regarding the Hawks poor zone entries. This power play goal had an outstanding zone entry to set up the Marian Hossa power play goal who was waiting in the slot to punch it past Brian Elliott. A big assist goes to Brad Richards on the previous play for causing the Jay Bouwmeester hooking penalty by showing a burst of speed that no one knew he he still had.

And let’s not forget the four point swing this game was against the divisional opponent you are trying to catch. The Hawks picked up two points on the Blues due to the win being in regulation. At this time Florida is leading Nashville so this Hawks win could loom really large in the Central division. 

With an assist on the Bryan Bickell goal, Patrick Kane now leads the NHL in points.

In a physical, tight checking playoff game, the scoring was opened up by Marcus Kruger who busted in on a two on one with Daniel Carcillo and was able to rifle one past the Bues goalie for a 1-0 which is how the period ended. The period saw several odd man rushes but the Hawks only cashed in on the Kruger one. The Kruger goal was due to a Blues turnover as they were pinching in the Hawks zone.

There was also a little Karma in the first when Ryan Reaves pushed Teuvo Teravainen down as he was going to his bench making the shove totally unnecessary. Somehow though the hockey Gods take care of these things and as Teravainen was falling his skate came up and cut Reaves open. Maybe not the smartest move by Reaves.

The second period you would have to give to the Blues as it was the Hawks that got caught on odd man rushes and turned over the puck in the neutral zone. Vladimir Tarasenko went in on a breakaway and  deked Crawford to tie up the game at 1-1.  Johnny Oduya got caught in the Blues end pinching and no one covered for him leaving one whole wing completely open.

There was an exchange of goals by Bryan Bickell and David Backes which on the Backes goal T. J. Oshie went down into Crawford who had no chance of making any saves. The period ended tied at two goals apiece.

The third period however, is where the Hawks demonstrated what puck management is all about and how it controls and effects the outcome of games. WGN radio post game said it best, "every team makes mistakes its how you recover and respond that makes the difference." It was the Hawks who responded and never stopped fighting, scratching and clawing til the end.

Maybe this third period should be called the Marian Hossa period, because he tallied two goals, one on the power play and an emplty netter. If  Marian Hossa gets going offensively look out for the rest of the teams in the NHL.

The third period also saw a Carcillo/Ott tiff. Ott crunched Marcus Kruger into the boards and Carcillo took exception. When are teams going to figure out you can not physically intimidate the Chicago Blackhawks. 

Corey Crawford was stellar in net again as there was several times when the Blues kicked it up a notch but Crawford defended his net well and stopped 25 of 27 shots .926 save percentage. So much for the Crawford chants being effective.

The Hawks now have a long home stand starting Monday against the Arizona Coyotes. If they keep the intensity up they have a chance to make up some ground at the United Center and isn’t that a scary thought for the rest of the west.

The Hawks just need to remember the fat lady has not sung yet for them so keep the intensity going.


Three Stars of the game:

1.    V. Tarasenko

2.    M. Hossa

3.    J. Schwarz

 Next game Sunday, February 9, at 7:00 p.m. CDT vs the Arizona Coyotes watch on WGN Chicago; or listen via radio on WGN AM720.

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