Blues Fall To Hawks, Tarasenko Rises


The St. Louis Blues (34-15-4) lost to the Chicago Blackhawks (33-18-2) 4-2 Sunday afternoon is St. Louis.  The Blues came to the game following a tough 7-1 defeat at the hands of the Columbus Blue Jackets Friday night which ended their 13 game point streak.  The Blackhawks had been .500 in their last 10 with a win against the Winnepeg Jets on Friday.  This game was the third of a five-game series with games one and two ending in 3-2 and 4-1 victories for the Blues and Blackhawks, respectively.

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This game was important for both teams, who have been fighting for position in the top three Central Division spots all season.  The Blues needed the win to take a preliminary tie for first that would hold if the Predators lost their game later in the day.  The Hawks needed the win to make progress on the second spot in the Central Division.  The advantage went to the Hawks, though which creates a two-front war for the Blues; fighting for first and defending second.


The game started with a lot of energy and strong play from both sides.  At 4:38 Marcus Kruger scored on a breakaway to give the Hawks the first point.  Despite this the Blues continued to play strong.  At 8:32 Ryan Reaves took an interference penalty.  During the infraction Reaves took a skate to the mouth and had to leave the ice.

The Blues killed the penalty and couldn’t regain their momentum right away.  Over the next five minutes the Blues frequently gave up the puck in both zones.  They started to make better plays, then at 18:15 Jonathan Toews received a delay of game penalty.  The Blues had a hard time getting set up on the power play.  The period ended with some remainder time for the Blues while the Hawks held their 1-0 lead.

Feb 8, 2015; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Blues center David Backes (42) celebrates after scoring a goal against the Chicago Blackhawks during the second period at Scottrade Center. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The second period started with a 16 second power play for the Blues but they were unable to score.  Reaves returned to the game.  The Blues spent the next five minutes trying to set up in the Hawks zone and mostly controlled the play.  At 6:52 Vladimir Tarasenko took a pass from Jaden Schwartz and scored on a breakaway to tie the game at one.  Paul Stastny received the second assist.

At 11:25 Brian Bickell caught a rebound and scored to put the Hawks up 2-1.  Shortly after that, at 12:53 T.J. Oshie and David Backes created a series of rebound which allowed Backes to eventually score and again tie the game at 2.  Alex Pietrangelo earned the second assist.  Both teams continued to take shots and make plays until the period ended with the score tied at 2.

The Blues dominated play during the early minutes of the third period.  Things evened out about halfway through.  The action got physical, then at 6:46 following a hit by Steve Ott on Kruger; Ott and Daniel Carcillo dropped their gloves.  Both were put in the box for five minutes with two minutes of 4 on 4 play.

Feb 8, 2015; St. Louis, MO, USA; Chicago Blackhawks right wing Marian Hossa (not pictured) scores a goal on an empty against the St. Louis Blues during the third period at Scottrade Center. The Blackhawks won 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

At 10:06, after teams went back to even strength, Jay Bouwmeester went to the box for hooking.  A minute in to the power play Marian Hossa took a shot from the slot to score a power play goal and give the Hawks a 3-2 lead.  In the final three minutes the Blues missed on a solid scoring chance.  With 45 seconds left the Blues’ pulled Elliot from the net.  With 13 seconds left Hossa scored his second on an empty net to give the Hawks a 4-2 lead and win.


Not a win for the Blues, but at least they weren’t trounced, which is some great news.  The Blues had some problems with their momentum in their last three games.  They had a rough win against the Lighting three games back and should have made the game against the Sabres look like a Harlem Globetrotters show.  Being unable to play against lower ranked teams (Sabres, not Lightning), almost ensures that playing a higher ranked team would not go well.  This was the case in the game between the Blues and the Blue Jackets, the latter of which aren’t highly ranked.  Considering the Blues lost a close game to the Hawks means that the Hawks weren’t on top of their game or that the Blues have fixed what wasn’t working.  Maybe it was a little of both.

The Blues found a lot of momentum in the late minutes of the second through the early part of the third.  The rest of the game, though, didn’t go their way.  If Chicago wasn’t regularly breaking up plays, it was almost certain the Blues were messing things up on their own with errant passes and poor entries into the offensive zone.  It is somewhat forgivable if a team can recover from these moments but the Hawks gained a lot of scoring chances with a few being odd-man rushes after the errors.

Feb 8, 2015; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Blues right wing Vladimir Tarasenko (91) reaches for a loose puck against the Chicago Blackhawks during the second period at Scottrade Center. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The Blues did play a fairly clean game otherwise.  Reaves probably shouldn’t have shouldered a guy going to the bench, which he paid for in teeth.  Bouwmeester’s penalty cost the team a goal but it wasn’t a bad or wholly preventable penalty.  Ott dropped his gloves, so his fighting major was earned; although Carcillo was a clear instigator which should have given the Blues a power play.

The best news of the day though, was that it appears the STL line is back up and running.  While Lehtera is gone, Schwartz and Tarasenko are still working hard and making plays.  The duo earned one of the game’s goals and created a majority of the Blues’ best chances.  Backes, Oshie and Steen played a strong game as well despite Steen being benched for some time for making a bad clear.

The Blues appear to have a little work ahead of them and possibly some more disappointment before they can get their game back on track, which is unfortunate, as they are close to overtaking the Nashville Predators for the lead in the Central Division.

What are your thoughts on the game?  Leave a comment below.

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