Marcus Kruger, Bryan Bickell and Marian Hossa ended personal droughts and the Blackhawks handed the St. Louis Blues a big home loss on Sunday afternoon.
Kruger opened the scoring in the first period with his first goal since Dec. 3, which also came against the Blues. Even thought he Hawks were out-shot 12-9 in the first period, they carried a one goal lead into the intermission. Unfortunately, turnovers caught up with them in the second.
With Johnny Oduya pinching and nobody back except Michal Rozsival, Vladimir Tarasenko got a breakaway and made a Patrick Kane-esque move on Corey Crawford to tie the game.
Bickell gave the Hawks a brief lead in the second period, putting home a fat rebound of a David Rudblad shot that Brian Elliott kicked right to Bickell’s stick. It was Bickell’s first tally since Jan. 11 against the Wild.
That lead lasted less than 90 seconds, as a pile-up in front of the net kept Crawford from stopping a David Backes shot that tied the game again. St. Louis out-shot the Hawks in the second again, with the shot totals finishing the period at 12-7 in favor of the home team. Crawford played a fantastic opening 40 minutes as his teammates were out-shot 24-16 but the score remained tied.
The third period was all Blackhawks.
Hossa had as many goals on Sunday – two – as he did in the entire month of January. His power play marker at 11:19 into the third held up as the game-winner, and he added an empty net tally in the final minute of the game to put the final nail in the Blues’ coffin.
In the final 20 minutes, the Hawks held the Blues to three shots on net only one of which was a great scoring chance; Crawford handled that opportunity, and the skaters in front of him put the game away. Crawford finished the afternoon with 25 saves in the victory.
The Hawks’ top line was on the ice for both of the Blues goals, but rallied for a big third period. Brandon Saad picked up assists on both of Hossa’s goals, and Jonathan Toews led a strong day at the dot for the Hawks. Chicago’s captain won 10 of 15 faceoffs and the Hawks won 32 of 56 as a team.
Patrick Kane picked up an assist on Bickell’s goal to give him, for the moment, the NHL lead with 59 points. Bickell played a strong game, adding an assist and team-leading three hits to his tenth goal of the season in over 14 minutes of ice time.
The Blues out-hit the Blackhawks 30-11. But lost the game.