ST. LOUIS, MO - DECEMBER 28: Patrick Sharp #10 of the Chicago Blackhawks chases down a loose puck against the St. Louis Blues at the Scottrade Center on December 28, 2013 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Despite having two different two-goal leads in the game, the Chicago Blackhawks couldn’t hold on and ended up dropping a 6-5 shootout decision to the St. Louis Blues on Saturday night.
Several Blackhawks had great games despite the outcome of the contest, and we will feature three of them in today’s edition of Three Stars.
Third Star: Brent Seabrook
While his linemate Duncan Keith has been getting all of the plaudits and Norris Trophy buzz so far this season, Brent Seabrook is quietly having a nice season on the offensive side of the ice, and it continued on Saturday.
In the game, Seabrook picked up his fourth goal of the season, and had five shots on goal in 24:34 of ice time.
That goal actually wasn’t all that great, as Seabrook’s wrist shot from the point somehow got past Brian Elliott, who slid way out to his left to try to glove the shot but completely missed it. Whether the puck knuckled or was deflected, Elliott looked perplexed after he failed to make the save, but the Blackhawks happily accepted the goal and the two goal lead it gave them.
The play is actually a nice reminder to the Hawks’ defensemen that getting the puck on net is a good thing. Seabrook could have easily held onto the puck at the blue line to let more of his teammates get up ice, but instead he put pressure immediately back on Elliott with the play, and the decision paid dividends for him.
Second Star: Patrick Sharp
A day after scoring a hat trick against the Avalanche, Sharp was back to his old tricks again on Saturday, scoring a goal and picking up four shots on goal in the loss.
Sharp’s goal in the first period was another one for the highlight reels, and once again showed off the fluidity and strength of the team’s top line. On the play, Jonathan Toews pushed the puck up to Marian Hossa along the boards, and in one quick motion, Hossa pushed the puck down to a streaking Sharp. Sharp then split the two Blues’ defensemen and deked past Jaroslav Halak for the easy goal and a 1-0 lead for the Hawks.
The top line has really formed a great bond in recent weeks, and they showed off a lot of their tricks there. Sharp’s aggressiveness, coupled with Hossa’s ability to stay strong on the puck and to time his passes perfectly both set the goal up, and there’s simply no way for a team to stop that kind of precision.
First Star: Patrick Kane
If there was any doubt that Patrick Kane is the best American player in the game right now, it has been alleviated by the excellent season that he is having for the Blackhawks. His goal and two assists in this one were key to the Hawks getting ahead in this game, and even though they ended up faltering late, Kane’s performance has to be recognized for his huge impact on the game.
Kane came close to picking up a power play goal in the first period off a shot from the point by Duncan Keith, as his deflection beat Halak, but it hit the post and came to a halt on the goal line, where Andrew Shaw ended up tapping home the easy tally. The play was a great reminder of Joel Quenneville’s philosophy of getting traffic to the front of the net and firing shots from everywhere, and Kane did it to perfection there.
Kane’s goal at the end of the first period was really good too. On the rush, Kane got the puck in the neutral zone, gained steam, and ended up blowing past a Blues defender before zipping a snap shot past Halak and off the inside of the post to give the Blackhawks back a two-goal lead at 3-1.
No American has ever led the NHL in scoring, but if Kane can keep producing the way he has been this season, then he has a tremendous shot at doing just that.