The Chicago Blackhawks defeated the St. Louis Blues 4-2 on Sunday afternoon. The Blackhawks will enjoy a few days off as they take on the Montreal Canadiens at the United Center in their regular season home finale.
The Blues would get off to a quick start as they converted on an early power play in the first period. Jaden Schwartz scored at 1:57 off of his own rebound that came back to him in the slot. Schwartz beat Corey Crawford five hole who never saw the puck as there was a mass of bodies in front of him. The Blackhawks would dominate the majority of the play for the rest of the period but despite a 11-3 edge in shots, they would enter the locker room trailing 1-0 after the first period.
In the second period, it was a different story for the Blackhawks as they were able to convert on mistakes by the Blues. Brian Elliot couldn’t handle a shot from Bryan Bickell. Jeremy Morin cleaned up the rebound in front at 8:34. It appeared the teams would enter the locker room tied at 1; however, a late 2 on 1 breakaway would turn the tide of the game. Morin fed a perfect cross slot pass to Patrick Sharp who one timed the puck past a sprawling Elliot at 19:33 to give the Blackhawks a 2-1 lead after two periods.
The quick strike Blackhawks offense continued as Marcus Kruger tapped home a loose puck in the crease after Joakim Nordstrom rang a shot off the post 56 seconds into the third period. The Blackhawks had the game on cruise control until Vladimir Sobotka scored his ninth goal on a wrist shot that Crawford couldn’t grab at 17:58. But the Blackhawks would put the clamps on with the Blues empty net and Ben Smith would score an empty net goal on a backhander with three seconds remaining to cap the scoring.
What it means
The Blackhawks are no longer able to catch the Blues for the division as they have 105 points and trail the Blues by 6 points with three games to play. Of more importance is the win keeps the pressure on Colorado to keep winning if they want home ice advantage in the first round against the Blackhawks. The Hawks trail Colorado by one point; however, the Avalanche has two games in hand on the Hawks. The Blackhawks are 3-0 without Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane.
3 stars of the game
3. Marcus Kruger- It was another strong game for Kruger who scored his eighth goal of the season by crashing the net. Kruger was strong all game with some great penalty killing and was a plus one with four shots on goal. In the faceoff circle, Kruger went 6 for 12.
2. Patrick Sharp- With Toews and Kane out until the start of the playoffs, more is needed out of Sharp. Goals in back to back games have given Sharp 33 on the season. Sharp tied for a team high with six shots on goal.
1. Jeremy Morin- Morin has been able to get some consistent playing time with the stars out and it has shown. He had a goal and assist and recorded a plus two today. Morin has been hot lately recording two goals and two assists in his past three games.