Facing the St. Louis Blues for the third time this month, the Chicago Blackhawks looked to gain a third win over their divisional rival.
Never a dull game between the Hawks and the Blues, tonight was no different. Straight into the action, St. Louis scored a goal by Ryan O’Reilly eighteen seconds after puck drop. A recurring issue, this was a direct result of Chicago’s perpetual defense issues, as O’Reilly was left uncovered when Henri Jokiharju drifted out of his area of coverage.
While Patrick Kane was able to answer back a few minutes later, the same Blues line soon scored another goal in a similar fashion. Too easily, David Perron managed to draw out Corey Crawford and most of the Hawks’ defense in order to free up Zachary Sanford, who had a nearly wide open net from his side.
However, the Hawks offense did not let up. Capitalizing on a turnover, Kane worked quickly to get the puck to Artem Anisimov for the 2-2 tying goal. This play worked particularly well because of the general speed and the ability to quickly identify opportunity. This is a prime example of how the Blackhawks work well when they take advantage of their speed, something they can do a lot more of.
In the second period, Erik Gustafsson took a reasonably defensive penalty, but Vladimir Tarasenko scored on the resulting power play. This goal was somewhat unavoidable, but moments later, the Blues managed another goal that was entirely avoidable.
After Sanford missed a pass in front of the net, there was much fumbling by both teams. In the end, Tyler Bozak was able to get it past Crawford, who had lost control of the net in the confusion. The lead up to this goal was messy and was only made possible by another mistake in the Hawks defensive coverage.
But as the second period ran out, none other than Patrick Kane scored off an assist by Anisimov. Kane’s eleventh goal of the season in eleven games played puts him back as the NHL’s league-wide leading goal-scorer.
It’s interesting to note that all three Chicago goals were either scored by Kane or were scored on a play made by Kane. Through the first forty minutes, he carried the team and was the main reason the Hawks stayed in this game.
While I don’t doubt that Kane will continue to pull off elite plays like these, the team cannot rely solely on its superstar players. Moving forward, there needs to be more effort and generation from every line. The lack of depth in this game was a little concerning.
Heading into the third period, the Hawks gave a valiant effort against the Blues backup goaltender, who was called in after concussion protocol removed Jake Allen. While neither team was able to capitalize for the majority of the period, Marcus Kruger certainly didn’t help the Hawks when he took a delay of game penalty.
This is Kruger’s fifth penalty in eleven games played. He holds the most penalty minutes on the roster. When considering that one of Kruger’s main roles on this team is to serve on the penalty kill, it’s unfortunate irony that he is often sitting in the box instead. Kruger’s string on unnecessary penalties has to end.
With less than five minutes left in the game, Tarasenko locked in the Blues lead on his second goal of the night. A two-on-one against Brent Seabrook, the odds were not in the Hawks’ favor. As the clock ran out, the Blues managed an empty net goal and a final one by Alexander Steen. Fate sealed, the Hawks were unable to come back and ended the game at a 7-3 loss.
The Blackhawks will return to the United Center at 5:00 pm tomorrow evening where they’ll play against Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers.
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