After the Blues put together a thoroughly impressive first period and the Hawks looked like they wanted no part of them, it was the Hawks who responded with an even more impressive final two periods to take away another important two points.
The Blues scored twice within a minute and a half in the first period to take a 2-0 lead and perhaps more importantly, they punished the Hawks defense with every dump-in. By the ten minute mark, the Hawks defense pulled one of the oldest tricks in the book. With each dump-in, the defensive pair would share a look at one another as if to say, “You got it? You want me to get it? Ok, I’ll get it.” By that time, the drooling Blues forechecker was already beating them to the loose puck and the Hawks defenseman would avoid getting plastered into the glass.
Luckily for the Hawks, their offense responded with a dynamic second period. The fourth line started it with Viktor Stalberg scoring off an offensive zone face-off. Tomas Kopecky helped set up the play by attracting two Blues around him, leaving Stalberg all alone to finish off the play.
One minute later, Marian Hossa found a streaking Dave Bolland to tie the game at 2. And just like that, the nightmare of a 1st period was erased.
Three minutes later, the Hawks top line went to work. Patrick Sharp and Jonathan Toews put together a tenacious forecheck. Toews fed Patrick Kane and his shot found its way past Ben Bishop to give the Hawks the lead.
Then on a power play, just moments after Toews tried feeding Sharp with a backdoor one-timer from the right side, Toews instead took it strong to the net and his second attempt banged past Bishop. A two goal lead for the Hawks was all the cushion they would need.
In the third, the Blues scored an early goal that was wiped out because it was ruled that David Backes interferred with Corey Crawford. The call was questionable but it was close enough to warrant the whistle. It turned out to be the difference when Alex Pietrangelo found the back of the net a few minutes later. The Hawks held on the rest of the way and all that matters was the two points.
–It was just a few weeks ago that we lamented a Canucks loss due to an incorrect goalie interference call. Today, the Hawks were the beneficiary of a call that could have gone either way. So, it all evens out.
–Jake Dowell had a terrific last shift. He saved an icing call with 8 seconds left by beating a Blues defender to the puck. Then he got railroaded by David Backes but moved the puck before he was annihilated. It was a good thing too because Dowell nearly cost the Hawks the lead a few minutes earlier. On the right side wall, he made a soft pass towards the center of the ice. It went right to the Blues and it led to a mad scramble in front of Crawford before it was cleared away.
–In 8 minutes of playing time, Tomas Kopecky certainly made it all count. He helped set up Stalberg’s goal by giving him space. Then on Jonathan Toews’ goal, Kopecky boxed out Barret Jackman beautifully as Toews took the puck strong to the net. The Hawks are definitely a stronger team with someone like Kopecky on their 4th line; I’m just skeptical he’s going to stay there long-term.
–After it seemed like they’ve combined to miss a dozen wide-open nets in the past few games, Dave Bolland and Marian Hossa finally found the scoresheet. Against Columbus, Bolland and Hossa each had golden opportunities to bury open chances but didn’t. Today, Bolland buried his chance and it was a big one. It should be only a matter of time before they start to pour it in. One can only hope, at least…
–The Blues have an army of slobbering power forwards. The addition of Chris Stewart only adds to their embarassment of riches. If they only had a couple guys who skate with the puck, they would be really dangerous. Until then, it’s always going to be the same story with them. They’ll continuously outhit their opponents but it’s only because they can’t hold on to the puck longer than a few seconds at a time. Sure it’s great that they’re really physical but it also means they’re always chasing the play. A couple playmakers and this team will be a real pain in the ass.