It only took 12 seconds for the Blackhawks to put the game out of the Blues’ reach on Thursday night in St. Louis.
The Hawks faced a little adversity when starting netminder Corey Crawford left the game after stopping all six St. Louis shots in the first period. He was replaced by Ray Emery to begin the second period, but the song remained the same for the Blues: zero goals.
St. Louis presented the most physical opponent the Hawks have faced to date, and openly wanted to take the action to Chicago out of the gate. But Jonathan Toews put home the first goal of the game only 12 seconds into the game.
And that proved to be all the Blackhawks needed on the night.
Brandon Saad started the game on the Hawks’ top line with Toews and Marian Hossa, and was credited with the primary assist on Toews’ game-winning goal in the opening moments. But as the game progressed – and became more physical – coach Joel Quenneville rotated Daniel Carcillo onto the top line.
That flexibility, and Quenneville’s comfort level with all 12 skaters, continues to pay dividends as the Hawks continue to roll.
In the game, Carcillo was credited with only one hit in 10:15 and, most importantly, stayed out of the penalty box. For his evening, Saad skated 13:20 and was credited with one takeaway with his early assist.
On the blue line, Chicago once again spread out the ice time well.
Duncan Keith led the way, but only skated 23:05 in the game; he was credited with only two shots on goal. Brent Seabrook skated 22:48 and led the team with five hits with two blocked shots.
Niklas Hjalmarsson led the team with three blocked shots in 21:05 while Johnny Oduya skated 21:31 and blocked one shot. Hjalmarsson and Oduya skated 4:44 and 4:51, respectively, on the penalty kill on Thursday night.
That penalty kill, that has been so impressive to date, handled all four of the Blues’ opportunities in the game.
Equally impressive, the Hawks allowed only 15 even-strength shots on net in the game.
Early in the third period, Andrew Shaw converted another pretty pass from Bryan Bickell to extend the Hawks’ lead to 2-0, and Toews added a second goal a little over four minutes later. For Shaw, it was his fifth goal of the year.
Hossa was credited with assists on both of Toews’ goals in the game, and Leddy had the primary apple on Toews’ second goal in the game. Toews and Hossa remain tied with 17 points each, and have identical records of nine goals and eight assists.
There was one rare statistic for the Blackhawks in the game: Patrick Kane failed to register a point.