It took a little while for the Blackhawks to get their bearings but while they waited, Cristobal Huet kept them in the game early. He made a couple of tough saves in the first five minutes that helped keep the score at 0. Then, the Hawks started to get a little pressure on the Blues. Then, a little became a lot. Soon, the Blues were having trouble getting the puck into the neutral zone.
The Hawks’ pressure finally culminated in a goal after a Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane cycle found its way to Troy Brouwer’s stick. Brouwer fired a shot from the top of the circles and the puck squirted through Ty Conklin’s legs. It was a historic goal as it was the first time Conklin ever let in a soft goal against the Blackhawks.
Three minutes later and with the Hawks on the power play, Kane fed Kris Versteeg behind the net. Versteeg turned and passed it to a wide open Brian Campbell. Campbell collected the puck, took one step and wired a shot into the top corner and just like that, the Hawks opened up a 2-0 lead.
The Hawks ended up outshooting the Blues 21-9 in the opening frame.
The second started much like the first; St. Louis got some decent pressure, Huet made the necessary saves, and then the Hawks tried putting the game away. Unfortunately, Conklin wouldn’t make it that easy. He stopped Versteeg on a full blown 2-on-0 and then got a blocker on John Madden’s point blank shot from 25 feet out.
After the Hawks killed off a penalty late in the period, Toews, Kane, and Hossa found themselves back together. Kane found Toews behind the net who made a nifty move to spin off a check and then slid a back-hand pass to a wide open Marian Hossa. The puck was on Hossa’s stick for a quarter of a second and then it was in the back of the net.
Both teams traded chances in the third but neither team found the back of the net with both goalies making solid saves. Fortunately for the Hawks, they already had a 3-0 lead and it was more than enough for the two points.
—Something weird was going on with Gene Honda tonight. For the first two periods, during power plays, he was announcing how much time was left. For instance, on a Blues power play in the second, he announced when there was a minute and a half left, a minute left, thirty seconds left, and ten seconds. Even Pat Foley got thrown off after hearing Honda’s announcement when he said Huet’s big save came in the last minute of the period. The only problem was there was still five and a half minutes left. In the third, Honda wasn’t updating the penalty time.
–I wonder if someone told Dustin Byfuglien that he was one of the six finalists for the last three spots on Team USA. Byfuglien was probably the Hawks best forward tonight. He was all over the rink, hitting anything that moved, and creating turnovers. For the second game in a row, he smoked an opposing player, who was taking liberties with the Hawks better players, with a clean check on the boards. This time, Barrett Jackman caught the brunt of Big Buff. Jackman did the heroic thing, though, by getting in Byfuglien’s face and then backing away as soon as his teammates surrounded him.
—Cam Janssen, next year’s leading candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize.
–If John McDonough had a problem with how Brent Seabrook’s head was positioned in a post-game interview, I can’t imagine he was too pleased after hearing Patrick Kane’s post-game interview with Sarah Kustok. Kane started off by making sure to give a shout-out to his ‘boys’ in the audience and then spent another five minutes rambling like he just chased a box of ‘No-Doze’ pills with a six-pack of Red Bull.
–This was probably Cristobal Huet’s best game of the season. Save for a shot that trickled through his legs in the final few minutes of the game, Huet controlled every shot that was thrown his way. By my completely unscientific count, I only recall one sequence where he gave out a juicy rebound. Every thing else, he either soaked up or kicked out to the corner.
*On the Farm*
—Shawn Lalonde went from being cut by Team Canada’s World Junior Team in the morning to Belleville in the evening for his team’s game. He had an assist and was a +3 in the Bulls 4-1 win over the Brampton Battalion.
—Byron Froese didn’t have a point in Everett’s 3-2 win over the Swift Current Broncos.
—Kyle Beach had an assist in Spokane’s 3-2 loss to the Portland Winterhawks. With the score tied 2-2 late in the third, Beach was sent off for goaltender interference. Portland scored the winning goal on the ensuing power play. Then, in the waning seconds of the game, Beach was sent off for a 10 minute misconduct for unsportsmanlike conduct.