Sidney Brown provides dispatches from the front lines of Blackhawks fandom every week during the hockey season.
Once again on the NHL’s biggest regular season stage, the Chicago Blackhawks looked to confuse occasional hockey viewers as to why they’d be selected to play in one of the game’s highest profile events.
It was another outdoor game and another loss for the Hawks on Monday afternoon, this time to hated rival St. Louis Blues by a score of 4-1.
For the second showcase in three years, and third in eight years, the Hawks participated in the NHL’s New Year’s tradition of an outdoor game. A sold out crowd of 46,556 at Busch Stadium anticipated a showdown between these two bitter rivals and received their money’s worth.
Chicago kicked off the scoring courtesy of rookie defenseman Michal Kempny (1 minute, 2 seconds) giving the road team an early 1-0 lead.
The Men in Red controlled the pace for the opening 20 minutes, but it was only a matter of time before the Blues responded. In the 2nd period, Patrik Berglund netted home his 6th goal of the year (7:45), tying the game at 1-1.
Building off the momentum of the middle 20 minutes, the home team carried it into the 3rd period where superstar Vladimir Terasenko scored twice (12:05, 13:58) to put the game out of reach. Sealing the deal was veteran Alex Steen with an empty netter (18:46) giving the Blues their 1st ever victory in an outdoor game.
Goaltending was stellar on both sides – Corey Crawford deserved a better fate as the offense failed once again to provide any support. Crawford stopped 31 of 33 shots with a .912 save percentage. On the other side, Jake Allen of St. Louis stood tall, collecting 22 saves and posting a save percentage of .957.
From the 2nd period on, it was clear to see that the Blues made adjustments and outplayed the Hawks controlling the pace while limiting scoring chances. St. Louis outshot the Hawks 35-23 and out hit them by a 25-18 margin.
Main takeaways from this contest for Hawks fans: no standings points – your lead in the Central division is down to only one point ahead of the hot Minnesota Wild; the penalty kill unit blanking St. Louis (4-4); team defensive play was inconsistent in the last 40 minutes of the game.
Coming up, four of the Hawks’ next five games are at the United Center and for Chicago it is a chance to get back on track before it gets ugly even with the injuries to key players in Marian Hossa and Marcus Kruger.
To the father/son duo of legends Bobby Hull (Hawks legend) and Brett Hull (Blues legend) or dropping the ceremonial puck before the game.
STL: Robby Fabbri (2 Assists)
CHI: Artemi Panarin and Duncan Keith with one assist each
CHI: 4 for 4 on the penalty kill
Power Play: Hawks (0-4), Blues (0-2)
CHI: Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane – No Points combined