ST. LOUIS – In the matchup between the second- and third-place Central Division teams, special teams loomed large.
And while the Blackhawks will take the one point they did get, their shaky penalty kill left them frustrated and absent that other point.
Artemi Panarin tied the game late but Kevin Shattenkirk won it in a shootout as the St. Louis Blues beat the Blackhawks 3-2 on Wednesday night. The Blackhawks, thanks to that point, move back into first place in the Central Division. The Dallas Stars, Friday’s opponent, also has 88 points but the Blackhawks have two more regulation/overtime victories than the Stars.
The Blackhawks took a 1-0 lead into the third period but gave up two power-play goals. Former Blackhawks forward Troy Brouwer scored what was the go-ahead goal for the Blues at the time. The penalty kill’s issues, and the infractions that put the Blackhawks on them (too many men and holding), left coach Joel Quenneville frustrated.
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“I didn’t like it at all tonight,” Quenneville said of the kill. “I didn’t like the two penalties we took at the end, too.”
Jonathan Toews, who left briefly in the second period after colliding with a partially open door on the Blues’ bench – a hip flexor he said felt better as the game went on – said the Blackhawks need to shore things up on the kill.
“I think the majority of the game we played pretty well. We just need those timely penalty kills in the third and we didn’t get them,” said Toews, who assisted on Panarin’s late regulation goal. “We’ve got to be better. I think our focus has been there the last couple of games; I think our kill was really good against Detroit. It’s still something that we need to improve on big time.”
On the other side, the Blackhawks had their power-play chances too but could come up with just one on three opportunities. That included a lengthy power play when Ryan Reaves was given a five-minute charging and a game misconduct for his hit on Blackhawks defenseman Christian Ehrhoff. Andrew Ladd redirected Teuvo Teravainen’s shot for a 1-0 lead. Outside of that one, though, the Blues’ league-leading penalty kill held off the Blackhawks’ league-leading power play.
Still, after Corey Crawford vacated the net late in regulation, Panarin forced overtime with his 25th goal of the season. After a 3-on-3 overtime in which both teams looked drained from thephysical contest, the Blackhawks and Blues traded a few shootout goals. After Shattenkirk scored his, Teuvo Teravainen missed to seal it for the Blues.
“That was a tough shootout,” said Crawford, who stopped 28 of 30 in regulation and overtime. “It was a fast game and playoff-type game. Itseems like we’re playing a lot of those lately. We’re in a great position, had some tough luck there on a couple power-play goals but I thought we played really well. Had a lot of chances.”
The Blackhawks did have their chances, but it’s what they gave up on the other end, on a penalty kill that’s been so good for the past several years, that had them disappointed.
“I think for the most part we played pretty well with the lead and I think we can always expect that they’re going to come hard at us,” Toews said. “So knowing that, in a way it’s disappointing we couldn’t come up with a second point.”