Chicago Blackhawks win in shootout against St. Louis - Dallas News |

Chicago Blackhawks win in shootout against St. Louis

Updated: Mar 14, 2012 10:17 AM CDT
CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Last Tuesday, the Blackhawks went into St. Louis, were completely dominated and dropped a 5-1 decision. The Blues not only defeated the Hawks, they pounded them into submission. This Tuesday night, in front of 21,349 very satisfied fans, the Blackhawks got some revenge as they pulled out a 4-3 shootout victory the hard way.

The Hawks took an early lead but the Blues quickly surged to a 3-1 first period advantage. St. Louis didn't have many scoring opportunities, but they seemed to convert on all of them. Blame shouldn't be placed on Ray Emery alone, although he probably should have stopped the Blues' first tally.

Emery's recent run as the Hawks starter began with Corey Crawford getting pulled after the opening period against Toronto on Feb. 29. On Tuesday it was Crawford replacing Emery for the start of the second period and he was perfect, stopping all 18 St. Louis shots. As good as Blues goal tender Jaroslav Halak played, as the Hawks pounded him with 46 shots, Crawford was better. It was a gutsy performance from Crawford, who didn't appear rusty at all.

Maybe the best part of the game was that the will of the Blackhawks stood out.

The Hawks could have called it a night early on, but instead they never stopped coming and they were rewarded for their perseverance. In all the time Joel Quenneville has been here, I don't ever remembering him mentioning he "loved" the effort from his team. Quenneville has had a rough season, and his elation was well deserved. When making post game comments, Coach Q. appeared proud to be the head coach of the Blackhawks.

There is good reason to like what has happed with the Hawks of late. In their previous seven games, they have played five contests decided in regulation. Their record in those games is 4-1, with all victories coming by a one goal margin. In the other two games, which went to a shootout, the Hawks are 1-1. The only time the Hawks have played a lopsided contest was in St. Louis, when they lost 5-1. The Blackhawks are winning playoff-like games, and like Tuesday night they are working hard and getting dirty doing so.

This time against St. Louis, the Hawks tough guys fought and more than held their own. The Chicago third line had one of their better outings, and the skill players crashed and banged until they found a way to solve Halak. The Blackhawks were able to match the tough Blues stride for stride.

Even Patrick Kane got physical as he knocked Blues captain David Backes down with a clean hard hit. Kane was noticeable throughout the contest and didn't let up. He was rewarded for his efforts by scoring the game-winner in the shootout. Kane had an assist, five shots on goal, two hits and one blocked shot.

Center Dave Bolland was more noticeable than he has been in recent weeks. Bolland fired a game-high nine shots at Halak, and his line was physical and working hard all night long. Brent Seabrook had the tying goal to go along with five shots and six hits. Duncan Keith had the game on his stick and missed the net in the closing seconds of OT. Keith led all skaters with 29:37 of ice time as he recorded six shots. Newcomer Johnny Oduya was on top of his game again defensively and was also credited with an assist. Viktor Stalberg did the little things well and was able to score the Hawks first goal.

The Blackhawks should feel confident, as they were able to come back to win against the team with the best record in the NHL. There won't be much time to feel content as the Stars are on tap for a Friday night game in Dallas. The Stars have been on fire, winning 10 of their last 11. Their strong surge began about a week before the trade deadline, and now they sit on top of the Pacific Division.

The Blackhawks have been without the injured Jonathan Toews for 11 games. The Hawks have basically treaded water, going 6-5 without their Captain. It appears Toews may have suffered a setback, as he was unable to participate in Tuesday morning's pregame skate. It is unclear when Toews will be able to return to action, and now it seems Niklas Hjalmarsson may have suffered a concussion relapse. Hjalmarsson did not see the ice after the second period and will be reevaluated on Wednesday, according to Quenneville.

My guess is it will take 95 points to qualify for the playoffs this season. The Hawks have 11 games remaining with only five contests to be played at the United Center. Only three of the games will be against teams that are currently out of the playoff race. The Hawks will face the Blue Jackets in Columbus and will skate against the Wild here and in Minnesota.

The Blackhawks should be able to capture 11 points in the remaining 11 games, major injuries or not. It won't happen without a concerted effort, and if recent games are an indication the Hawks will stay determined.

Al's Shots 
On Tuesday afternoon I chatted with Jamie Shalley during a SiriusXM radio interview. We discussed the Blackhawks struggles, including the injuries to Toews. We also talked about the odd timing of the Dan Carcillo contract extension and what his re-signing signals about the Chicago organization.

We also discussed the emergence of Ray Emery as the Hawks starting goal tender. With Crawford's solid performance against the Blues, maybe it's too early to consider him as only a backup for the rest of this season. My thinking was Quenneville was leaning toward Emery, but now he has a decision to make going into Dallas on Friday night.

The audio link to hear the interview is located in the upper right hand corner on this page.

Follow me on Twitter @AlCimaglia

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