Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko (91) tries to wrap the puck around the net on Blackhawks goaltender Cam Ward (30). (Photo courtesy: David Banks, AP Photo)
CHICAGO, IL – The St. Louis Blues (43-28-8) revitalized their age-old rivalry in United Center against the Chicago Blackhawks (34-33-12) in a 4-3 shootout loss. The Blues were hunting for the two points that would bring them even with the first- and second-place teams in the Central Division, but they fell just one short. David Perron and Tyler Bozak gave St. Louis life late in the third period, but Patrick Kane’s goal and Jonathan Toews’ goal and shootout winner helped Chicago finish out with a W. The Blues got one point tonight out of the shootout despite Cam Ward getting the job done with Blackhawks legend Tony Esposito in attendance.
The Blues’ point put them within one of first-place Winnipeg Jets and second-place Nashville Predators, all with two games remaining in the regular season. Their record fell to 43-28-9 while Chicago improved to 35-33-12. The Blackhawks were mathematically eliminated from playoffs the night before, but played with the same energy we saw from their previous matchups with St. Louis all year.
While it wasn’t as fast as a playoff-level match, the game certainly opened with the skill and physicality of a playoff atmosphere Blues and Blackhawks fans are used to experiencing. The Hawks possessed the edge in chances and shots in the opening, but the Blues defense and netminder Jake Allen rose to meet the challenge.
Neither team played perfectly, but teammates hit and played hard for each other to keep the game scoreless until the final five minutes. A neutral zone turnover by the Blues gave the top line for Chicago an opportunity and captain Jonathan Toews capitalized. Tape-to-tape passing on a partial 2-on-1 from Toews and Patrick Kane gave Chicago a 1-0 lead late in the first period.
It was Toews’ career-tying 35th goal and Kane’s career-tying 106th point, with Caggiula getting the final assist. The Hawks were able to pressure Allen even more with a late power play opportunity, but the opening period closed 1-0 in Chicago’s favor. Chicago’s power play gave them the edge on the shot total as well, 12-7.
The Blues responded very similarly in the beginning of the second the way they responded to Colorado last game. On the first shift, 26 seconds in, Vladimir Tarasenko wristed a beautiful shot past the far side of Cam Ward to even the score 1-1.
His linemate Brayden Schenn and defenseman Colton Parayko added helpers on the play to open the second period. The game resumed with lots of chances and hits on both ends of the ice, but with under seven minutes left, the Hawks found the lead again. Artem Anisimov broke free of his defender just in time to tip a shot in directly in front of Allen, who was sliding the other way.
Anisimov’s 15th of the year found twine thanks to the contributions of Dominic Kahun and Brandon Saad. The Blues and Blackhawks both stayed assertive on their play and the period would close without another goal. Chicago left again with the one-goal lead and the shot advantage, 25-17.
The Blues knew what needed to be done in the third and threw everything they had at Cam Ward, but he stood tall for his team through the opening half of the final stanza. The Hawks would take advantage of his play and added to their lead, when leading scorer Patrick “Showtime” Kane netted a backhander so fast the goal horn didn’t even sound.
Kane’s goal was courtesy of a great feed from Strome and Duncan Keith and put his team up 3-1. However, a hooking penalty on Strome shortly after burned the Hawks. David Perron scored his 22nd of the season on the power play with the help of captain Alex Pietrangelo and Tarasenko.
The power play goal gave the Blues life again at 3-2 and began turning the pace of the game in their favor. In the final 2:22, head coach Craig Berube pulled Jake Allen for the extra attacker on an offensive zone faceoff. A clearing attempt towards an empty net by Kane went wide and the Blues jumped on the life they had left. Colton Parayko and Pat Maroon’s physical presence gave Bozak a chance to charge in Ward’s crease and bank in his 13th of the year and crucial game-tying goal.
The Blues’ comeback goals earned them a critical point in the Central Division title race, and regulation came to an end. The Blues headed into overtime putting on 22 shots in the third and outshooting Chicago 39-36.
The Blues and Blackhawks headed into overtime for their second game in a row and had a couple of decent chances, but both netminders kept it out of their cage for the extra five minutes. With Chicago getting two shots to St. Louis’ one, a shootout was required to determine the winner.
The Hawks captain Jonathan Toews went up first, and he buried it off a one-touch deke past Allen’s blocker. Tyler Bozak’s attempt down the middle was saved easily, and Patrick Kane’s shot rang off the crossbar. Ryan O’Reilly couldn’t break Ward, and Alex DeBrincat just missed the net. With the game on Tarasenko’s stick, he came in too slow on Ward and he poked the puck before Tarasenko’s deke to seal a 4-3 shootout win and third win against the Blues after regulation.
The Blues, while suffering a frustrating loss against their biggest rival for the fourth time this season, were positive in getting a point out of the third period rally. “We found a way to get one point and that’s what matters,” David Perron told STL-Today. “If we get four points in [our remaining games], who knows where that could take us.”
“We were flat in the first, not a lot of emotion, but we got better as the game went along,” head coach Craig Berube said to St. Louis media after the game. “The comeback in the third period was our best period… We talk a lot about home ice advantage and the division up for grabs, so we need to play consistent here going into the playoffs.”
The Blues are back home for the final homestand of the regular season tomorrow, hosting the Philadelphia Flyers, While Chicago’s last home game hosts the Dallas Stars. To follow these games, head to:
PHI@STL: FSMW+, NSP+, KMOX 1120, WPEN 97.5, NHL.tv
DAL@CHI: NSCH, FSW+, WGN 720, KTCK 1310, NHL.tv
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