The Chicago Blackhawks dropped a 2-1 decision to the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night in Missouri, allowing the Blues to clinch the Central Division and ensuring that the Blackhawks will not have home ice advantage in the first round of the postseason.
Dmitrij Jaskin and Paul Stastny scored goals for the Blues in the game, and Jake Allen made 21 saves as the Blues wrapped up the division title. The Blackhawks’ lone goal of the game was scored by Andrew Shaw, and Corey Crawford made 23 saves in the losing effort.
Early in the game, it seemed as though both teams were focused on playing solid defense, and as such there weren’t many scoring chances in the early going. Duncan Keith did get a good chance on net in the early going, and Ty Rattie had a wraparound attempt later in the period, but both shots were stopped by solid defensive efforts to keep things scoreless.
The Blackhawks were the beneficiary of a late penalty as Kevin Shattenkirk was sent off on a slashing penalty as he hacked Brandon Saad on a semi-breakaway, but they were unable to score. Kris Versteeg made things worse as he picked up an elbowing penalty, but the Hawks kept things under control as Crawford denied TJ Oshie a chance late in the period to keep it at 0-0 after the first period of play.
Early in the second period, the Blues continued to pound the Hawks offensively, with Jay Bouwmeester and David Backes each getting quality scoring chances. Neither one of them was able to score, but the Blues kept the pressure up even as the Blackhawks got and lost a power play opportunity near the midway point of the frame.
Late in the period, the Blues’ pressure paid off in a big way as David Rundblad was tagged with a double-minor penalty for high-sticking. With three minutes left in the frame, Alex Pietrangelo rifled a shot toward the net, and Crawford was able to stop it. Jaskin got inside position as the puck trickled into the blue paint, and he whacked home the rebound to give the Blues a 1-0 lead.
The third period got underway with the Blackhawks trailing by a goal, but their sense of urgency was seemingly lacking. Bickell did have a decent chance early on as he stole the puck from Barrett Jackman, but Allen made the save on the breakaway to keep his team in front.
The Blackhawks had to kill off another penalty near the midpoint of the third period as Crawford was called for a high-sticking minor, but they did so with ease. They even got a chance of their own during the proceedings, but Joakim Nordstrom’s pass across the ice to Saad was broken up by Pietrangelo to deny the opportunity.
With about six minutes to go in the game, the Blues extended their lead. After the puck took an odd hop off the boards and went past Niklas Hjalmarsson, St. Louis got a 3-on-1 rush the other way, and Jaden Schwartz fed a nice pass to Stastny, who deposited it into the net to make it a 2-0 game.
With 4-on-4 action on the ice as Steve Ott and Kris Versteeg were sent off, the Blackhawks cut the Blues’ lead in half. A 2-on-1 rush for the Hawks paid dividends as Teuvo Teravainen’s shot went high off of Allen’s goaltender pads, but Shaw was there to whack the rebound in to make it a 2-1 game. That was all the Hawks could muster however, and they dropped their third straight game.
The Hawks will wrap up the regular season on Saturday night as they take on the Colorado Avalanche in Denver.