Several of the Blackhawks talked about how they needed to stay in “road mode” for their return home Tuesday night.
More important, however, the Hawks re- mained in their “win mode,” holding off the St. Louis Blues 7-5 for their third straight victory and first at the United Center since Nov. 14 before departing on their annual circus road trip.
The Hawks actually stormed to a 5-1 lead, then had to regroup after the Blues pulled within a goal early in the third period.
“It was mostly about keeping that momentum that we built on the road,” said captain Jonathan Toews, who had a 2-goal night with an assist along with Patrick Kane. “We were happy to get on the board quite a bit, but at the same time we shouldn’t have to score 5, 6 or 7 goals to win a hockey game.
“We’ll learn from that and just be smarter as far as not opening it up and giving our opponents too many chances.”
Hawks coach Joel Quenneville called a timeout to settle his team down after Brad Boyes’ goal at 6:02 of the third period made it 5-4.
“We got a little too casual,” Quenneville said. “We were looking to make it 6-2 instead of just being happy at 5-2.”
The Hawks responded to Quenneville’s timeout with a big penalty kill followed by goals from Kane at 13:42 and Toews with 4:27 to play.
“We kind of stopped playing there after we had a lead, and it seems like we’ve done that a few times this year,” Patrick Sharp said. “It was nice to see the response after the timeout.”
Tomas Kopecky had maybe the strongest game of any of the Hawks with a goal and 3 assists.
“I thought he had an excellent game in L.A.,” Quenneville said. “I thought he was very hard on the forecheck, strong in the puck area, (made a) nice play to Johnny. He did a lot of good things, but I thought it was an extension of his last game.”
The Hawks were ready for this tricky first game back home following a long road trip.
Kopecky opened the scoring just 4:38 into the first period and moments later John Scott brought the crowd to its feet by fighting and beating Cam Janssen.
“We really showed our team identity tonight with some of the fights and the plays that we made,” Toews said. “Obviously, Johnny’s been huge dropping the mitts once in awhile, but even a guy like Jeremy Morin, that was huge.”
Morin, the 19-year-old rookie recalled earlier in the day to replace Marian Hossa in the lineup, fought Chris Porter late in game as part of a big all-around game.
Morin’s hard hit behind the net helped set up Kopecky’s goal in the first period, and his dump-in early in the second period bounced crazily off the glass in front to Troy Brouwer, who had a wide-open net for a power-play goal that made it 3-1.
“There were still some nerves there, but I just tried to simplify my game and bring some energy to my line,” Morin said.Copyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.