On Monday, the Blackhawks put their annual outdoor game loss in the rear view mirror.
Chicago traveled to St. Louis and broke at least one trend: they scored first. And early.
Playing at Busch Stadium, the home of the St. Louis Cardinals, the Hawks put home the first goal of the game only 65 seconds into an intriguing first period. Michal Kempny received a pass from Artemi Panarin and… “blasted” home a knuckleball.
The shot, and the pass that set it up, weren’t incredibly crisp – something everyone was watching when the game started. Regular rain throughout the day and warmer temperatures had many players and fans wondering if the ice would hold up. To the credit of the league, the ice surface wasn’t to blame for the Hawks loss.
Patrik Berglund tied the game 7:45 into the second period and the two teams made it through 40 minutes in pretty good shape. The Blues out-shot the Hawks 23-17 over the first two periods but both goaltenders were seeing the puck well.
The wheels fell off for the Hawks in the third period, though.
Vladimir Tarasenko beat Corey Crawford twice in a span of 1:53 to blow the doors off the Winter Classic. His 17th and 18th of the season gave St. Louis a lead the Hawks’ couldn’t overcome; Alexander Steen’s fourth of the year and the fourth of the game for the Blues came into an empty net to finish the job.
Jordin Tootoo skated eight shifts (4:37) and led the Blackhawks with four hits. He was also credited with one takeaway and was minus-one in the loss.
In relevant Blackhawks player notes:
Jonathan Toews won 11 of 22 at the dot and finished tied with Patrick Kane for the team lead with three shots on net. Brian Campbell, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook had two blocked shots each to lead Chicago. And Crawford made 31 saves in defeat.
With Marcus Kruger missing from the lineup, Artem Anisimov won eight of 15 faceoffs in a new mix at center for the Hawks. Tanner Kero won five of 12 as three skaters took the overwhelming majority of the Blackhawks’ draws. Andrew Desjardins (0-2) and Vinnie Hinostroza (0-1) took the other three faceoffs for coach Joel Quenneville.
Kempny skated 16:55 and scored for the second time in as many games. He was also credited with two hits.