The Blackhawks were hoping that heading home, albeit for one game, would help stoke the energy they were lacking at the end of their latest road trip.
That, coupled with a division matchup against the St. Louis Blues, was apparently just what the Blackhawks needed to end their two-game losing streak. It wasn’t pretty but it was effective, as the Blackhawks bested the Blues 2-0. They’re just one game away from a well-earned break.
But they still have that one game left, so the Blackhawks aren’t looking past it. Much like we’re not looking past tonight, as we roll out the Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ victory over the Blues.
1. We may just have to carve out this spot for Corey Crawford all the time. Hey, the guy keeps playing well so we’ll keep lauding him. Crawford wasn’t as busy as he has been in other games recently, at least from start to finish, but he was nevertheless solid again in his NHL-leading seventh shutout of the season. Crawford credited his defense once again but others were more than happy to credit Crawford. “Those saves early-on, they could change the tide of the game,” Trevor van Riemsdyk said. “He always seems to come up with the big saves in the bug moments and every other one in between.”
2. The power play works at home. The Blackhawks’ power play, overall, is better this season (fourth in the NHL). On the road, however, it hasn’t been so stellar. The Blackhawks entered Sunday night’s game with a power play that ranked 17th at home. But there it was in the second period, thanks to Andrew Shaw’s tip of a Marian Hossa shot, providing the necessary cushion in a tight game.
3. The Artemi Panarin-Patrick Kane connection strikes again. It was Kane’s great pass that led to Panarin’s sizzling goal, which proved to be the game-winner. Coach Joel Quenneville gave the most apt description of those two after the game,saying the two had “Sedin-like” anticipation. Indeed, the two wings have been on the same page all season and it’s led to a lot of points. It led to a critical goal on Sunday.
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4. Stopping the bleeding. The Blackhawks have been giving up a lot of shots lately but they stemmed the tide in the second and third periods against the Blues. While the Blues had 12 shots in the first, they had just 13 over the final two periods. The Blackhawks recorded 22 blocked shots – not surprisingly, Niklas Hjalmarsson had a team-high seven of them.
5. Almost there. The Blackhawks are just one game away from the all-star break but they’re not even talking about it right now. They’ve put together a great stretch heading into this weekend and they don’t plan to kick back and relax until their final pre-break game on Tuesday. Said Crawford, “We’ve got one more game against a team that’s been flying under the radar this year. They’ve been playing good hockey so there’s no break. No talks of break yet.”