On a Sunday night that saw two significant trades impact the Western Conference, the Blackhawks hosted the St. Louis Blues in a heavyweight fight at the United Center.
Tomas Jurco made his Blackhawks debut (wearing #13) on a line with Marcus Kruger and Marian Hossa, while Ryan Hartman and Tanner Kero were joined by Andrew Desjardins.
At least that’s how the lines started.
The Blackhawks came out flying, and got off to a good start. At 4:18 into the first, Nick Schmaltz connected with Jonathan Toews and the Hawks were on the board.
Five minutes later, Kruger was sent to the box for hooking. Thankfully, St. Louis only had 37 seconds of an advantage before Alexander Steen hooked Kero and the teams were spent some time playing 4-on-4. During the 4-on-4, coach Joel Quenneville sent Schmaltz out with Patrick Kane for shift and the two nearly connected for a goal.
Jake Allen stopped Kane that time, but Chicago’s sniper wouldn’t be denied when the Blackhawks had a brief power play with Steen in the box.
Chicago’s 2-0 lead lasted a little more than five minutes before a poorly played puck turned into a Magnus Paajarvi goal and the Hawks were up 2-1.
Chicago came out firing, getting 20 shots on net in the opening 20 minutes. St. Louis put 11 on Scott Darling, starting for a sick Corey Crawford.
The second period saw the action even out. With Trevor van Riemsdyk in the box, Alex Pietrangelo tied the game at two at 12:33 into the second. That is where the score would remain as the Blues out-shot the Hawks 12-11 in the middle stanza.
Both goaltenders improved as the third period progressed. Allen made a few huge stops, including one against a Richard Panik breakaway in the middle of the third. For his part, Darling made a couple enormous saves to keep the score tied at two.
As the third continued, Quenneville started to throw his lines around like crazy. Kane saw shifts with Desjardins and Hartman as the Hawks tried to find a matchup that worked.
But for all the mixing and matching, the Hawks offensive juggernaut line broke the tie. With 5:20 left in regulation, Artemi Panarin threw a ridiculous pass across the crease to Artem Anisimov and the Hawks were back in front.
Anisimov’s 22nd of the year gave Kane a two-point night.
With 95 seconds left in regulation, Darling made a couple tremendous saves in traffic and Kero was able to clear the puck with Allen on the bench for St. Louis.
Inside the final 10 seconds, Hartman had a huge shot block in front of a scrambling crease and the puck found Kero, who was able to aim and fire on the empty net and the Hawks finished off a 4-2 victory.
And two busloads of Blues season ticket holders were sent home sad.
Darling finished another strong performance with 31 saves against 33 shots.
Toews won nine of 19 faceoffs with two points (one goal, one assist) and one hit. Kane also had two points (one goal, one assist) and one hit in 21:30, the highest ice time total for Blackhawks forwards.
On the night he recorded his 500th point, Duncan Keith 26 minutes important with two blocked shots and no Niklas Hjalmarsson in the lineup. Without Hjalmarsson, Brent Seabrook saw a lot of late ice time with Keith and led Chicago with five blocked shots.
Hartman and Desjardins led Chicago with four hits each. Kero won four of nine faceoffs and added one hit to four shots on net and his fifth goal of the season.