The St. Louis Blues encountered a bumpy start to their game Saturday night at Scottrade Center but never gave up and rallied to beat the Chicago Blackhawks 6-5 in a shootout. Kevin Shattenkirk scored the winning goal in the 5th round of the skill competition and Brian Elliott, who replaced starter Jaroslav Halak in the 1st period, stopped Brandon Saad to seal the victory. It gave the Blues their 3rd straight win against Chicago to start a season since the 2008-09 campaign and improved their record within the Central Division to an NHL best 11-0-1.
Chicago set the tone early Saturday night, scoring twice in the first 10-minutes of the game, including a power-play goal from Andrew Shaw, and out-shot the Blues through 20 minutes 13-6, though Max Lapierre cut the lead to 2-1 at 14:04 on a gorgeous deflection of a shot from the point by Carlo Colaiacovo. Ian Cole notched his first of two assists for the night on the play.
Patrick Kane would score late in the 1st period to chase Halak, who suffered yet another disastrous start, ans steal the momentum back for the Blackhawks. The Blues would climb back into the game in the 2nd, however, dominating in the neutral zone and getting early goals from Jaden Schwartz, his 4th in as many games, and from Dmitrij Jaskin. It was the rookie’s 1st NHL goal and tied the game 3-3 giving the Blues a new lease on the night. Jaskin played most of the game on the 4th line, parked in front of or buzzing around the net, and knocked in a rebound from a nearly impossible angle to send the home fans into a frenzy.
The Blackhawks would once again snatch the momentum back from St. Louis with a late 2nd period goal by Saad and then a quick, fluky goal to start the 3rd frame, this time by Brent Seabrook who essentially just threw the puck at the net from the blueline, somehow eluding Elliott and giving the ‘Hawks a 5-3 lead. The Blues would battle throughout the final 20 minutes and pull to within a goal when Vladi Tarasenko scored his 12th of the season at 16:09, a nifty little wristshot moving across the slot after he fought his way into the zone and fed Alex Pietrangelo out high. Petro’s shot would ricochet off the end-boards and Tarasenko gobbled it up and fired the puck past Antti Raanta.
Their work not done, St. Louis out-muscled the Blackhawks for the remainder of the game, out-hitting Chicago 30-12 on the night. When Brenden Morrow drew Holding minor against Niklas Hjalmarsson with 3-minutes left, Shattenkirk, Tarasenko, and Patrik Berglund would make the most of the man-advantage, Berglund tying the game 5-5 with a power-play goal. Bergie dug the puck off the boards from a group of ‘Hawks, made a strong rush to the net and beat Raanta with a backhand shot, a goal-scorer’s kind of goal, something we’ve only seen in flashes from the big Swede this year.
The overtime period would be fast and furious, but without any scoring, the game would be decided by a shootout, and it was the shooters shining Saturday night. The first two skaters for each team would score, and not simply score but dazzle the crowd with highlight-reel quality moves. Tarasenko would pot the 2nd Blues goal with a one-handed move earning comparisons to the great Peter Forsberg. Both goalies would shore up the crease and stop the next four chances before Shatty’s eventual winner.
That the Blues beat Chicago (again) isn’t all that surprising, but the fact they were able to do it minus key pieces of their team- Roman Polak, Alexander Steen, and Derek Roy, to name but a few- truly showed their depth and grit, two key components of this year’s St. Louis club that sits at 25-7-5 and while they’re 6-points behind the ‘Hawks in the standings, they still have four games in-hand on Chicago. St. Louis will faceoff tonight against the Stars in Dallas and it will be Morrow’s first visit to the Big-D as a Blue. He spent 10+ years in Dallas amassing over 200 goals as a Star. Ells will start for the Blues in net, and Vladimir Sobotka will finally be back in the lineup, though their depth will be tested again as David Backes will not play, possibly suffering the effects of a big hit late in Saturday’s game.
GO BLUES! LONG LIVE THE NOTE!