The Chicago Blackhawks finally solved the St. Louis Blues, tonight, thanks to the heroic shutout, from Corey Crawford. The Hawks earned their first win, of the 2014 NHL playoffs, and climbed closer, in the series, but still trail the Blues 2-1.
As expected, the 1st period got off to a fast and physical start. Immediately after puck drop, the Hawks controlled the puck, but couldn’t quite get into the ideal scoring lanes. It ended up not mattering, as Jonathan Toews buried a throw away shot on goal, that went right through Blue’s goaltender, Ryan Miller, to make it 1-0, Hawks, early in the 1st period.
A few minutes after the half-way point, of the 1st, the undisciplined play, of the Hawks, reared it’s ugly head again. Andrew Shaw took a not so smart interference penalty, to give the Blues a Power Play. Luckily, the Hawks were able to kill off the penalty, largely thanks to yet another clutch save, from Corey Crawford.
Ill-advised penalties seem to be spreading around the Hawks’ locker room, as Bryan Bickell committed a sloppy hooking penalty, late in the 1st, to give the Blues their 2nd Power Play. The 1st period would end with the Blues still having 16 seconds remaining, on their Power Play, and the Hawks holding onto a 1-0 lead. It wasn’t pretty, though. The Blues played a much better period, and if it wasn’t for the soft goal given up, by Miller, and the clutch goaltending from Crawford, this period could have been ugly. Hockey’s weird like that, though.
The Hawks would kill off the remainder of the Blues’ Power Play, in the 2nd period. They would also get a Power Play of their own, after Maxim Lapierre delivered a dirty hit, on Sheldon Brookbank, for a boarding penalty. St. Louis would kill the penalty, but then, right as it expired, Roman Polak would put the Hawks right back on the man-advantage, with his cross-check, on Kris Versteeg. Once again, however, the Blues would kill the penalty, making the Hawks’ Power Play looking rather anemic.
After several minutes of ultimately uneventful play, with the exception of the occasional Crawford clutch save, the Hawks would get yet another Power Play. This time, the Blues got called for too many men, on the ice. A little over a minute into the man-advantage, Alex Steen would trip Marian Hossa, giving the Hawks a 2-man advantage. The Blues would kill the first penalty, and the 2nd penalty would still have 20 seconds remaining, as the 2nd period came to an end. The score remained 1-0, Hawks, after 2 periods of play, but the powerless Power Play, of the Hawks would bring about ominous feelings.
St. Louis would kill off the remaining 20 seconds, of the Hawks’ Power Play, at the start of the 3rd period. A bit later, a tired Marcus Kruger would be on the ice a bit too long, as he would take a holding penalty, after being on the ice, for an extended shift. At this point, it felt like man-advantages were actually man-disadvantages, as the Hawks would kill off the Blues Power Play, with clutch play, on the PK, from Michal Handzus.
The Blues controlled the tempo, afterwards, but Crawford was once again up to that task, again and again. Towards the end of regulation, Ryan Miller would head to the St. Louis bench, in favor of the extra skater, but the Hawks would bury an empty-netter, by way of Kruger. The Hawks would hold on and keep the 2-0 lead, and grab their 1st win, of the series.
The Hawks now trail the Blues, in the series 2-1, with the next game, on Wednesday night, in Chicago. Hopefully Crawford can stay hot, and keep the Blues off the scoreboard. It’s a whole new series, now.