By: Nicholas Jacquin, Sports Writer
A lot has changed since the last time the St. Louis Blues and Chicago Blackhawks met on the ice for a pivotal Central Division matchup. The Blues have endured tough stretches of multiple losing streaks, ultimately leading to the firing of head coach Ken Hitchcock, while the Blackhawks have been nearly unbeatable. The trend continued on Sunday evening as the two battled it out at the United Center in downtown Chicago.
Chicago was able to get on the scoreboard early on in the first period on a goal by captain Jonathan Toews, just four minutes in, making it 1-0 Chicago. It was Toews 16th goal of the season and his ninth in his last 14 games. Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane made it 2-0 later on in the first, giving Chicago all the momentum on home ice.
Fortunately for the Blues, they were able to get on the scoreboard before the end of the first period on a goal by Magnus Paajarvi with 3:06 remaining. Paajarvi was able to beat goalie Scott Darling between the legs for his fourth goal of the season. The score would remain 2-1 as the two teams headed to the first intermission.
St. Louis came out strong in the second period and saw an opportunity to get back into the game after a high-stick penalty put the Blues on their second power play of the game. A short time later, it was team captain and defenseman Alex Pietrangelo beating Darling glove side, to tie the game at two.
Neither team would score again in the second and the score would remain 2-2 heading into the third period. After multiple chances from both sides to take the advantage in the final period, and no one able to capitalize, the game appeared to be heading towards overtime.
However, the Blackhawks thought otherwise and they were determined to not let the game slip away after their two-goal advantage in the first period. Artem Anismiov took a perfect cross-ice pass from linemate Artemi Panarin and beat Blues starting goalie Jake Allen on the glove side. The goal made it 3-2 Chicago with just over five minutes remaining.
Chicago would add another goal late in the period on an empty-netter by Tanner Kero, making the final score 4-2. The win was Chicago’s fourth straight and ninth in their previous ten. Meanwhile, St. Louis has dropped its last three and need to get back on track to remain in the playoff hunt.
It was a strong game for Allen, who did everything he could to keep the Blues in the game after recording 38 saves. Despite the effort, changes will certainly need to be made as St. Louis faces a tough stretch against some of the top teams in the NHL the next couple weeks in Edmonton, Minnesota, and Anaheim.