Determined Blues take advantage of breaks, win shootout 3-2 - FOX 32 News Chicago

Determined Blues take advantage of breaks, win shootout 3-2

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

In a game that started out well but didn't end that way, the Blackhawks lost in a shootout to St. Louis 3-2. It wasn't a breathtaking contest but it was a hard fought affair and usually those games are decided by breaks, lucky bounces and occasionally poor officiating. On Thursday evening at the United Center all three elements were involved.

In the opening period of a rather physical game, Jonathan Toews was given a slashing penalty and it was a very weak call. That infraction led to a power play goal on a beautiful screen and deflection by David Backes which tied the score at one. The Blues second goal was a combination of a lucky bounce and a bad break. Jay Bouwmeester's shot from near the blue was redirected and then the puck bounced off of Duncan Keith's stick and into the net. After the Keith own goal the score was tied at two through forty minutes.

Rookie Brandon Pirri got a chance to play and had a nice outing as he benefitted from a slick pass from Marian Hossa. Pirri did the rest as he quickly released an accurate wrist shot that went by Jaroslav Halak for his first NHL goal. The Hawks took advantage of a bad turnover by Barret Jackman and a coverage lapse as Hossa scored on a breakaway. So the Hawks did benefit from a Blues miscue and the game went into overtime tied at two.

Unlike last week's game in St. Louis, when the Hawks trailed but quickly came back to even the score, this time it was the Blues that never had a lead but stayed determined throughout.

The Blackhawks didn't have the same punch to their game after the opening period. They were not pushing as hard as the Blues, who did a better job of going north and south. As has happened before the Blackhawks were a little too cute at times, and allowed St. Louis to gain momentum.

Jackman almost ended the contest in the extra period as his shot beat Corey Crawford but hit iron. The Blues had only one shot in the OT, the Hawks recorded three as the game was then decided in the shootout.

It is a small sample but the Blackhawks will need better production out of Patrick Kane and Toews in shootouts. Joel Quenneville has tried to change the usual order of who shoots first, last night Kane did but it didn't matter.

On the season, Kane and Toews are 0-3 in shootout attempts and the Hawks would also be better off if they had a set third shooter. Patrick Sharp is 1-2 in shootouts over the past two games, maybe he is the answer but it is too early to tell. Last night all three Blackhawk shooters were blanked.

The Blues slick forward TJ Oshie solved Crawford with a nice move and the Blues were able to skate away with a shootout victory.

The Blues Backes is better than any Chicago player at setting screens as he always seems to play well versus the Blackhawks. St. Louis pressured Crawford with point shots and they worked hard to get to the net. There wasn't a great deal of difference between the two teams but the Blues deserved the extra point.

As usual the Hawks controlled the first period but they could not get a second goal past Halak. If they could have the game probably would have had a different outcome. Halak didn't start the night as sharp as he was last week in St. Louis but he got stronger and was a big factor in the Blues victory.

One could say the Blues got the better of the officiating and some fortunate bounces but there is no crying allowed in the NHL. Realistically the Hawks were on home ice and did get four power play chances but couldn't convert. So what appeared to be a night for revenge turned out to be another home ice loss.

Quenneville can't be happy with the spotty play from his squad. It's not like the Hawks are performing terribly but they aren't playing consistently well. Quenneville keeps mixing up line combinations but the team can't step on the gas when needed.

The Blackhawks are equipped to win low scoring affairs but when goals aren't scored there is no room for error. In seven games thus far, the Hawks have scored more than two goals only twice. When goals are hard to come by games can be decided by bad luck, poor officiating and shootouts. That's exactly where the Blackhawks have been for most of this season.

Quenneville will be looking for a sixty minute effort and additional scoring on Saturday night as the Maple Leafs come to town. The Hawks won't want to lose two in a row on home ice and Dave Bolland and his new mates will be trying to prove they are for real.

The Leafs have jumped out to a fast start with a 6-2 record. They should be in a foul mood after blowing a two goal lead in the third period on Thursday night in Toronto as they suffered a 3-2 loss to Carolina.

I will be back on Sunday morning and you can follow me on Twitter @AlCimaglia.

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