Whenever the Chicago Blackhaws and St. Louis Blues get together it is sure to be a physical game and Sunday was no different. With the Hawks trying to secure the first overall spot in the Western Conference and the Blues trying to hold onto a playoff spot, there was a little added intensity in this matchup. Despite being out hit 22-13, skill proved to be the deciding factor in this one as the Hawks were able to shut out the Blues for the second time this season.
Corey Crawford was back in net for the second straight game and played a strong game for the Hawks. He stopped all 30 shots he saw en route to the Hawks seventh shut out this season. They had none last year. With another solid performance, Crawford seems to be the favorite for the playoffs unless he has a few shaky outings before the season ends.
From the start of the game, the Blues were out to beat the Hawks physically. Players are both team were finishing checks and getting strong hits on opposing players. After Andrew Shaw was interfered by Petrik Berglund, Viktor Stalberg got some extracurriculars going, which resulted in a dog-pile along the boards. The most frightening moment of the game for the Hawks was when Jonathan Toews went to the locker room after being hit hard a couple times by David Backes. Toews came back in the second and remained in for the entire game.
Both teams were scoreless in the first but Bryan Bickell got the Hawks first goal after a strong rush to the Stalberg. The goal, 4:31 into the second proved to be all the Hawks would need in this one. The physicality seemed to tone down as the game went on and the Hawks got the lead. A few good chances went by for the Hawks as Marian Hossa hit the post. Hossa had a very strong game and got the Hawks’ second goal immediately after a face off win by Toews in the third period.
The Blues tried to come on strong towards the end but Crawford made some great saves to prevent the Blues from making a comeback. Fortunately for the Hawks they were able to escape St. Louis with a 2-0 win and no apparent injuries.
What’s Next: No time off for the Hawks as they return to the United Center to face the Dallas Stars tomorrow at 7:00 P.M. With Sunday;s game being in the afternoon, I think Crawford gets the start again tomorrow. Sharp did not go today but I would expect to see him back tomorrow.