Blackhawks Win Third Straight Against Blues
The Chicago Blackhawks have rebounded nicely after losing nine straight games, some of those to division opponents, and added a solid team effort against their rivals to the south by defeating the Blues 3-1 at the United Center.
There was no magical formula consumed by the Hawks a la "Space Jam" to bring about this recent successful play - pretty simply, the Blackhawks' best players were just exactly what their team needed them to be: their best players.
Duncan Keith posted a goal and an assist, Corey Crawford stopped 29 of 30 shots and Dave Bolland scored the game winning goal to give Chicago it's third win in as many games.
Facing one of the top goalies in the league in Blues' Brian Elliott, the Hawks faced a tall order in any attempt to score against St. Louis.
The Blues kicked off the scoring first late in the first period when Jamie Langenbrunner crashed the net with the puck and the Hawks defense struggled to clear the crease, allowing Andy McDonald to put the loose puck into the net as he snuck in behind Corey Crawford to score his third goal of the season.
St. Louis appeared to out-match the Hawks in the first period as they out-shot Chicago impressively 15-4. At the end of the first twenty minutes of play, the Blues looked to have the edge.
This game was pretty evenly matched for the next twenty minutes as neither team dominated play and were fairly even in shots. However, at the start of the third period, the Blackhawks really turned on their engines.
Less than five minutes into the third period, Patrick Sharp received a pass from down low to near the half boards and slipped a pass to a streaking Duncan Keith who blew a laser right by Brian Elliot for his fourth goal of the season to tie the game at one a piece for Chicago.
The Blackhawks then capitalized on another great scoring chance when Duncan Keith received a pass to the point from Bryan Bickell and sent a slap pass to Dave Bolland who fired the puck on net from the right post. With a little luck, the puck bounced off of David Backes stick right in front of Elliott and slipped in to give the Hawks a 2-1 advantage.
The Blues generated a few more quality scoring chances through the remainder of the third period, but it was in vain. Marian Hossa provided the empty-net insurance tally with less than a minute to go to put the game away 3-1 for Chicago, his 23rd goal of the season.
With the win, Chicago moves within one point of the fifth place spot in the Western Conference playoff race, right behind Nashville. The Blackhawks will look to extend their winning streak to four games when they faceoff against the best team in the NHL when they host the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday night.
Whether or not Chicago GM Stan Bowman will make any moves by the deadline remains to be seen, but with the team now playing much better hockey, the need for additional help on defense is not as pressing as it once was just a few weeks ago.
The Blackhawks are now earning much needed points to stay in the playoffs but will need to keep their foot on the gas if they want to maintain a good position come time for the post-season.