Saturday night was a good dose of old time, Norris Division hockey from the Blackhawks and Blues in St. Louis.
The Hawks did a nice job of controlling a majority of the action in the opening 20 minutes. Duncan Keith, in his first game back from LTIR, put a long shot on net that got past Jake Allen to give Chicago a 1-0 lead at 4:10 into the game. Andrew Shaw was credited with tipping the shot in for his second of the season.
Chicago held a 10-9 shot advantage at the end of one. It was in the second period that the fun really began.
The teams combined for 24 penalty minutes in the second period, including a Toews-Backes fight after the Blues captain boarded Niklas Hjalmarsson. Vladimir Tarasenko scored twice to begin the period, at 6:32 and then a power play goal with Marko Dano in the box at 8:16. The two goals gave him ten on the season and the Blues had a 2-1 lead at the mid point of the middle frame.
After taking a dumb penalty behind the play, Dano saw his ice time the rest of the way in the second period disappear. He made his limited opportunities count, however.
But the Hawks battled back, showing a resolve they have lacked at times early this season.
Trevor van Riemsdyk played a magnificent game, and tied the score with his second of the season at 15:17 into the second. Dano, on a rare shift late in the period, picked up the second assist on TvR’s goal.
Three minutes later, it appeared the Blackhawks may have taken the lead. Jake Allen made a remarkable save on a shot by Dano that was reviewed by the NHL. The league office felt they couldn’t clearly see the puck fully cross the goal line and supported the no goal call made on the ice.
Moments after the Allen save, former Hawks forward Troy Brouwer was sent to the box for slashing and the Hawks made them pay. Artemi Panarin made a beautiful pass to a wide open Patrick Kane, and the rest is… well…
The goal is Kane’s 12th of the season and gave the Blackhawks a 3-2 lead.
While it’s become commonplace for the Kane-Anisimov-Panarin line to make an impact on the box score, what was encouraging was the balanced scoring in the first 40 minutes of the game. Nine different Blackhawks skaters had a point in the first two periods, including Teuvo Teravainen. Teravainen quietly has a point in five of the last six games for the Hawks, and looked good on a line with Marcus Kruger and Andrew Shaw for most of his evening.
In the third, it took more than 15 minutes for the Blackhawks to register a shot on net but the defense was up to the task as the Blues put pressure on.
Corey Crawford was spectacular in a couple sequences, perhaps most notably with around two minutes left in regulation when he made a couple enormous stops in traffic and was able to get the puck into open ice for the skaters in front of him to get it up the ice.
Seconds after Jake Allen skated to the St. Louis bench, a terrific effort by Jonathan Toews to find Niklas Hjalmarsson was followed by another exceptional effort from Hjalmarsson to get the puck past the center ice line. He found Anisimov, who buried the empty net dagger to cap the scoring.
van Riemsdyk went to the box with 3.3 seconds left in regulation, which will help bolster a strong night of penalty killing for the Blackhawks; with the short denial, the Hawks killed five of six on the night. It didn’t take away from another fantastic effort from the Hawks young defenseman, who skated 18:22 in the victory.
Keith led Chicago, skating 27:34 in the victory. Hjalmarsson went to the room briefly after he was boarded by Backes but still skated 22:48, and Brent Seabrook skated 24:20. Oddly, not one of the Hawks’ top three defensemen was credited with a blocked shot in the game.
Another youngster whose role continues to grow is center Tanner Kero. While Toews served seven penalty minutes, Kero found himself getting heavy minutes on penalty kill duty and he was very good in his increased role. Kero skated 14:23 of which 4:14 was short-handed. He won five of eight at the dot and was credited with a blocked shot, and – perhaps most impressively – was on the ice for a few late shifts with the game.
Anisimov won eight of 14 faceoffs and was the only Blackhawks player to have a multi-point night. At the end of the night, 11 different Blackhawks skaters registered a point and Crawford made 29 saves against 31 shots.
The Hawks return home for their final home game before the Circus Trip on Sunday night when the Flames are at the United Center.