April 9, 2015
Joel Quenneville and the Chicago Blackhawks didn’t look extremely interested in for most of Wednesday night. The Hawks offense did not produce much throughout the night and the defense had problems clearing their zone at times. Corey Crawford did his job to keep his team in the game but the Hawks offense let him down. That is starting to sound all too familiar.
The Blackhawks and Blues skated to a scoreless tie after first 20 minutes of play. The Blackhawks would get one power play chance but pretty much did nothing with it. The Hawks actually outshot the Blues 8 to 7, but St. Louis had better scoring chances including a point blank power play chance by T.J. Oshie at the very end of the period, but Corey Crawford made the big butterfly save.
The Blues would finally get a goal on the board at 17:10 of the second period with a power play goal. With David Rundblad in the box for a high sticking double minor, David Backes redirected and Alex Pietrangelo shot past Crawford and Dmitrij Jaskin was at the doorstep to make sure it got across the goal line. The Blues stayed on the power play for another full two minutes but the penalty kill was up to the task.
The Blues doubled their lead at 14:05 of the third period. A strange bounce of the boards left Niklas Hjalamarsson flat footed at his blue line and seconds later Paul Stastny buried his 16th goal of the season to cap off an odd man rush for the Blues.
With both Kris Versteeg and Steve Ott in the penalty box, the Blackhawks finally got one past Jake Allen at 17:21 of the third period. Teuvo Teravained led a two on one rush and banked his shot off of Allen’s mask while Andrew Shaw drove hard to the net to tip the rebound in for his 15th goal of the season.
The Hawks seemed to get a jump to their step after the goal but were unable to push another past Allen. With the win and the Nashville Predators home loss to the Minnesota Wild, the Blues have clinched the 2015 Central Division title.
I started this recap with saying that Coach Q didn’t seem to have too much interest in winning tonight. Sure, he wanted to win but he had a plan to limit some minutes and try and stay healthy over the last two games. Jonathan Toews played over two minutes less than his season average and only had one 11 second shift on the penalty kill.
The Hawks can still drop to the first wild card spot and play the Blues in the first round. They will need to pick up at least one point in Colorado on Saturday to clinch the third spot and a first round matchup with the Predators. If the Wild win on Saturday and the Hawks lose in regulation, Minnesota will jump the in the standings.