Bozak, Blues Explode with 4-Goal Third, Win 4-3

Blues forward Tyler Bozak (21) fights for space with Blackhawks defenseman Erik Gustafsson (56). Photo courtesy: Jeff Curry, USA TODAY Sports)

CONDENSED REPORT

ST. LOUIS – The St. Louis Blues (20-8-6) reignited the rivalry against the Chicago Blackhawks (12-15-6) for the second time this season, as the Blues pulled off an unbelievable comeback after being down 3-0 in the third period to win, 4-3.

Jordan Binnington got his first start against the Blackhawks in his career, but was barely challenged in the first period. St. Louis also saw Alex Steen return to the lineup for the first time since early November. The Blues outshot Chicago 13-2 in the opening, as Corey Crawford stood on his head to keep it scoreless.

Brandon Saad scored on just the 4th shot for Chicago in the opening of the second period to give the Hawks the lead, and they tried to build with a 5-on-3 powerplay. Binnington stood tall for his team and they pushed back, but despite the pressure from the Blues defenseman in the offensive zone, none of them could beat Corey Crawford in the second frame.

After another early goal by Brandon Saad in the third, Patrick Kane sniped on Binnington to make it 3-0. The Blues suddenly exploded in the next 13 minutes, after Tyler Bozak scored two goals to bring it within one. Jacob de la Rose scored his first goal as a Blue on an incredible backhand shot to erase the deficit, and Justin Faulk buried the go-ahead goal to take the lead. The Blues shut the door for the final breathtaking minutes and secured the comeback, 4-3.

The Blues continue their 4-game homestand against the division rival Colorado Avalanche on Monday in what could be the biggest game in the first half of the season. Chicago heads back home tomorrow night to host the Minnesota Wild.

1ST PERIOD

After lackluster starts in their previous games, the Blues started the game on time and got right to work for the entirety of the first period. The Blues dominated the offensive possession and laid siege to the Chicago net. All four lines looked in sync as Alex Steen returned to the ice for the first time since November 6.

Corey Crawford, however, looked like the goaltender he was in the early 2010s, making save after incredible save on the Blues chances. Despite the effort, Chicago couldn’t get the puck working in their direction, registering just two shots on goal for the entire period. A lucky crossbar saved Jordan Binnington in the first, and the Blues skated off the ice with a 0-0 tie.

2ND PERIOD

The Blackhawks immediately improved from their bad first period and got on the board 19 seconds in. Brandon Saad sent a point shot that went five-hole through Jordan Binnington, who was perfectly screened by Justin Faulk and Dominik Kubalik.

The Hawks scored on their 4th shot in the game to break the ice in their favor, 1-0. Chicago used the lead to build their own offensive time back up. However, the Blues defense remained solid, killing a partial 5-on-3 powerplay to prevent them from scoring again.

As tempers mounted between Robert Bortuzzo and Jonathan Toews, St. Louis started finding their game in the second half of the period, pushing the Hawks back. The Blues defenders contributed heavily to the offensive attack as Justin Faulk, Vince Dunn and Alex Pietrangelo all registered solid chances.

Corey Crawford was yet again superb in the Chicago net in the second, stopping all 27 St. Louis shots through two. The Blues trailed the Blackhawks 1-0 at the end of the second period, outshooting them 27-11.

3RD PERIOD

The Hawks punished the Blues early for another mental lapse in the opening seconds of the third. Jonathan Toews and Brandon Saad struck again, after the Hawks captain worked the puck down low and got a seam pass perfectly across ice to Saad.

Saad’s second of the evening, 30 seconds in, quieted the crowd as the Blackhawks doubled their lead. While the Blues tried to retaliate, Chicago found their game and didn’t give up anything easily. Patrick Kane also found his game against one of his favorite teams to score against, as he sniped a shot in the slot on Jordan Binnington.

Kane’s goal was a deafening blast in the silent Enterprise Center as the Hawks lead 3-0. The Blues, however, refused to give in as they found their first goal a moment later. Robert Thomas made two beautiful passes to Tyler Bozak in tight, and Bozak scored on the second try.

Bozak’s goal, in his 700th career game, put the Blues right back within two and gave the building some life. The Blackhawks nearly took the 3-goal lead back, but another high shot off the crossbar saved St. Louis again. It gave them new energy for the third period, and Robert Thomas and Tyler Bozak dazzled again with a spin-o-rama setup.

The comeback wasn’t finished there, as the very next shift the Blues got back to work. Ryan O’Reilly forechecked the puck away in the far corner and fed the puck to Jacob de la Rose, who scored a beautiful backhander to erase the 3-goal deficit and tie the game.

The Blues tied the game with two goals coming 12 seconds apart, as St. Louis fans imploded. With all the momentum in their favor, the Blues gave the Blackhawks the final dagger. Robert Thomas displayed his passing wizardry a third time with a no-look feed to Justin Faulk, who wristed it cleanly past Crawford.

The Blues stunned the Blackhawks with four unanswered goals in the third period and took the lead, 4-3. The Blackhawks desperately tired to tie it, and even had a powerplay opportunity to do it, but St. Louis slammed the door for the final two and a half minutes of the game to secure the 4-3 victory. St. Louis laid siege on Corey Crawford with 38 shots, while Chicago scored three goals on 22 shots.

POSTGAME

The Blues recognized the no-quit mentality in the third period that gave them the comeback win. “We played a really good game up to that point,” Robert Thomas told Darren Pang after the game. “Our message was the same: just keep on pushing forward, keep on believing in what we’re doing, and it turned out really well there. We got a couple of goals quick and kept on going from there.”

“I think we played good in the first and second… just couldn’t get the puck in,” Jacob de la Rose said. “Even though they got up 3-0, we didn’t stop playing, we kept pushing and we got rewarded. This team knows what it takes to win and just to stick with it…I’m just trying to play with the same confidence as my teammates and it’s starting to work out.”

The Blues are the 4th team in the league to reach 20 wins as they regain control of 1st in the Central Division. They play the other squad fighting for that spot, the Colorado Avalanche, on Monday to keep their lead safe. To follow Monday night’s action, tune in to:

STL – FSMW, ESPN 101.1, Fox Sports GO, NHL.com

COL – ALTI, KKSE 950, NHL.com

For local Blues stories, recaps, insights and more, visit bluesrants.com!

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