The Chicago Blackhawks didn’t make it easy on themselves, but two goals in the third period by Patrick Kane helped them to a 4-1 win over the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday night.
Kris Versteeg scored the go-ahead goal just after the conclusion of a third period power play, and Marcus Kruger scored in the first period. Ian Cole scored the lone tally for the Blues, but it wasn’t enough as Antti Raanta made 41 saves to pick up the win in his first start since late October.
The game got off to a bit of a feisty start, as Andrew Shaw and Daniel Carcillo sought to make an early physical statement. The Blues managed to stay out of trouble for the most part, and they picked up two good scoring opportunities. Cole got the first one as he fired a shot through traffic and off the near post, and a few minutes later Alex Pietrangelo let a wicked slap shot go, but that too found iron as the game remained scoreless.
After the two teams exchanged unsuccessful power plays in the middle stages of the period, the Blackhawks got a two-on-one rush up the ice, and they made the Blues pay. Jonathan Toews got things started by chipping the puck out to the blue line, and Brandon Saad made a great play to steal the puck away from Cole and pass it over to Kruger. Kruger took it up the ice, and with a Blues defenseman screening Jake Allen, the forward ripped a shot through the goaltender’s pads to give the Hawks a 1-0 lead with about four minutes remaining in the first period.
As the first period ended and the second period began, the Blackhawks gave the Blues two more power play opportunities, but the visitors couldn’t convert on either one. The Hawks’ defense stood tall for the most part during the early part of the second period, but neither side could get a dam-breaking goal in the back-and-forth affair.
With about eight minutes remaining in the period, the Blues established possession in the offensive zone, and after failed clearing attempts by Brent Seabrook and Kane, St. Louis was able to score to tie the game. Patrik Berglund got the puck in traffic near the goal crease, and he made a nice backhanded pass to Cole, who lifted a shot over Raanta and into the top shelf of the net to make it a 1-1 game.
Late in the second period, Toews was sent off for a penalty, but Vladimir Tarasenko erased the last part of the St. Louis man-advantage, giving Chicago a power play to start the third period. Receiving a pass along the boards from Duncan Keith, Toews feathered a pass across the zone into the slot, and Versteeg ripped a one-timer past Allen to give Chicago a 2-1 lead just as the power play expired.
A little less than two minutes later, the Blackhawks scored again. This time, Versteeg went from being a scorer to being a facilitator, and when his saucer pass across to Kane found the sniper’s stick, Kane didn’t miss as he ripped a wrist shot just inside the far post to put Chicago up by a 3-1 margin.
Not content with that score, Kane made an outstanding individual play to score yet another goal. Picking up the puck off a lofted pass into the neutral zone, Kane made a quick stick-handle around Barrett Jackman, and with the official’s arm in the air to call a penalty, Kane still managed to score on the ensuing breakaway to give his team a 4-1 lead.
The end of the game saw a slew of penalties on both teams, but the Blues could never recover from the early third period onslaught. Carcillo, Seabrook and David Backes all picked up 10-minute misconduct penalties for their trouble, and the game ended with the Blackhawks still well out ahead.
The Hawks will next hit the ice on Friday night when they welcome the Montreal Canadiens to the United Center.