Let’s briefly lay out the situation when the puck dropped on the Hawks-Blues at the United Center:
- Dylan Strome was at the morning skate but isn’t clear from concussion protocol. Didn’t dress.
- Drake Cagguila is still MIA.
- Duncan Keith’s groin isn’t 100 percent yet so he wasn’t in the lineup.
- Robin Lehner was sick, so the Blackhawks had to call up Kevin Lankinen to serve as the backup goaltender.
- Ian McCoshen was sent to Rockford to make room for Lankinen.
- Andrew Shaw has a mysterious ailment that kept him out of the lineup on Monday night as well.
- The Hawks were out of cap space, so they couldn’t call up an 18th skater.
So, for those keeping track at home, the Blackhawks had 11 forwards and six defensemen in the lineup. No Keith. No Shaw. No Strome.
Oh, and they were without assistant coach Marc Crawford, whose past conduct is being investigated by the Blackhawks. That nugget dropped about 45 minutes before the puck dropped.
But Chicago had their slick black alternate sweaters on, so we had that going for us… which is nice.
Have we mentioned that the Blues have the best record in the Western Conference in spite of their injury issues?
What a way to celebrate Jonathan Toews’ 900th career regular season game.
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When Mackenzie MacEachern scored his fourth of the year 2:34 into the first period the climb felt all too familiar. After losing two games to Colorado by a combined score of 13-5 over the weekend, an early goal against was deflating.
Jaden Schwartz added a power play goal at 14:22 into the first to give St. Louis a 2-0 lead that, given how the Hawks have been playing over the past nine days, felt insurmountable.
Both teams put 10 shots on net in the first.
After 40 minutes of hockey the Blackhawks had a 21-19 shot advantage but were still chasing two. Chicago killed a Toews penalty in the second period.
The Hawks kept skating but there were no results. Brayden Schenn put home his 14th of the season 8:56 into the third.
St. Louis leads the Western Conference for good reason. They took care of the puck and Chicago simply couldn’t get anything going. Colliton tried to mix his lines with only 11 available forwards but none of the combinations stuck for very long or saw much success.
With just under three minutes remaining in regulation the Hawks had a great opportunity with Brandon Saad on the doorstep but a couple pucks didn’t get through and one hit the post. Saad was on the ice with Kirby Dach and David Kampf at the time.
Moments later Tyler Bozak took an awful Olli Maatta turnover and buried it. In fact, that might be one of Maatta’s better assists of the season. And it the score was 4-0 in favor of the Blues.
That would be the final score. Patrick Kane’s point streak ended at 15 games. And the Blackhawks have allowed 17 goals in their last nine periods of play. Rightfully, the boos were loud when the final horn sounded.
Kane skated 24:20 and put six shots on net to lead the Hawks.
Toews won 10 of 22 at the dot in 20:56 and put three shots on net.
Even with only 11 forwards, Anton Wedin skated only 9:32. He was credited with three hits in his 13 shifts.
Erik Gustafsson led Chicago with five hits but put zero shots on net in a blue line-leading 22:59 on the ice.