Thursday, December 17, 2009

Hawks post back to back shutouts, blank St. Louis 3-0

The blackhawks recorded their league-leading 5th shutout of the season, while Patrick Kane assisted on all three goals as Chicago beat division rival St. Louis at the UC in their first meeting of the season, 3-0 on Stan Mikita night.

The hawks have now not given up a goal in their last 171 minutes & 33 seconds at the UC, since Chris Higgins scored for the rangers in the 1st period of the hawks 2-1 OT win a week ago.

The blues actually started well, outshooting the hawks 7-2 in the first five minutes of the first, having two more shots blocked and missing the net on yet another. But then the tide turned, with the hawks taking over, eventually drawing a penalty on Perron for interference. Though they didn't score on the powerplay, the hawks seemed to gain further momentum, and about a minute after the expiration of the penalty, they put one on the board, with Kane & Toews cycling the puck deep in the St. Louis zone, eventually finding Brouwer up high on the right side. Brouwer fired a long shot on net, that deflected off blues defenseman Barret Jackman and somehow found room between Conklin's legs, to make it 1-0 Chicago. It was Brouwer's first point in 9 games, after he had picked up 9 points in his previous 8 games.

About a minute later, the hawks' powerplay got another opportunity when Brad Winchester interfered with Bryan Campbell. This time, Campbell made the blues pay by firing a snap shot from the point that found the net with Kris Versteeg screening Conklin on the play.

The hawks ultimately outshot the blues 21-9 in the period, an amazing stat considering the shots on goal after the first 5 minutes.

The blues started the second the way they had started the first - outshooting the hawks 6-1 in the first 10 minutes, though the hawks had two separate 2 on 0 breaks where they failed to convert - Versteeg & Byfuglien and later Madden & Versteeg, both, however missing great chances. Late in the 2nd, the blues Crombeen was sent in alone but Huet made a good save to keep it 2-0. A minute or so later, the blues got a powerplay opportunity when Versteeg was sent off for hooking, but St. Louis couldn't capitalize and shortly after the expiration of the penalty, the hawks scored their 3rd goal with Toews gaining control of the puck behind the blues net & skating to the other side of the net, found Hossa alone in the slot for a one timer that beat Conklin between the legs.

The hawks essentially coasted the rest of the way, with the help of some bone-crunching hits by Dustin Byfuglien. It seemed the blues finally tired of being at the receiving end of big #33's hits for most of the game, with Crombeen & Winchester both going after Byfuglien after he nailed Jackman late in the 3rd, with all three receving roughing minors. After Crombeen had served his minor, he returned to the ice and got involved again with some extracurricular activity when Sopel came to the aid of Huet after Cam Janssen got into a scuffle with the hawk netminder. Eager then challenged Crombeen, with Jackman jumping in the middle of that scrap. When all was said & done, Eager, Jansen & Jackman received 10 minute misconducts.

Hawk defenseman Cam Barker left the game early in the 3rd & did not return. Coach Quenneville indicated after the game that it was a lower body injury but not believed to be serious. Keith Tkachuk was a healthy scratch for St. Louis.

With the win, the hawks moved into sole possession of 2nd place in the western conference, two points behind Los Angeles with four games in hand. They get ready to face the rejuvenated Boston Bruins at the UC on Friday in another original 6 matchup.

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