The 2013 Stanley Cup Banner was hanging over them, but the red team playing in the United Center Thursday night did not look much like champions as they took on the St. Louis Blues.
While rookie Brandon Pirri opened the game on a good note for himself and the Blackhawks with his first NHL goal, the team let every move be answered by the Blues.
Three minutes after Pirri’s goal, David Backes tipped one in past goalie Corey Crawford on a Power Play after Jonathan Toews was called for slashing.
“Awful,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville told media after the game, “didn’t like our game at all … first 12 minutes I liked.”
“Early, we had that and I don’t know. We stopped getting behind them, getting it at the net. We slowed ourselves right down. Didn’t like our pace, how we turned pucks over, didn’t get pucks to the net, didn’t generate any offense after the first.”
The Blues opened the second period, but lost some momentum when Barret Jackman earned a boarding penalty with a hard hit from behind on Patrick Kane at 7:18.
Though Kane knelt on the ice a while after the hit, he was back on the for the Power Play. The Hawks played with a vengeance, battling fruitlessly back and forth but not managing many shots to the net.
When Marian Hossa had a breakaway slapshot goal about 10 minutes later, it was quickly answered by St. Louis. Jay Bouwmeester’s shot was redirected by Alex Steen, hitting Blackhawk defenseman Duncan Keith’s stick, and sliding past Crawford to tie the game 2-2 about one minute later.
“That’s what they do: they put pucks on the net. They score ugly goals,” Quenneville said, “we’re not willing to do that.”
The Blackhawks looked ready to score again late in the third after the Blues’ Roman Polak hit Marcus Kruger from behind at 6:14, yielding a boarding penalty and a barrage of fists from Brandon Bollig. The two received fighting majors, with Bollig getting the extra misconduct and instigating. Jackman joined Polak in the box for roughing against Andrew Shaw.
Again, the Hawks couldn’t set up a play and Shaw got a roughing call just a minute later against T.J. Oshie.
After a sloppy third period, a fruitless overtime led to a shootout, where Oshie tallied the game-winner with a forehand-backhand goal against Crawford.
The Blackhawks had 28 shots on goal for the game, while the Blues had 26.
“We’re going to see a lot of them, and we’ll be fighting with them for spots in our division,” Chicago defenseman Brent Seabrook said, “we have to be better against these guys and come out Saturday night and have a better effort.”
The Blackhawks host Toronto at 6 p.m. CT Saturday, for the team’s Hockey Fights Cancer Night.