Blues coach Ken Hitchcock nailed it after Tuesday’s morning skate.
“Where Chicago tests you is defensively, and your composure under fire,” Hitchcock said. “You’re not going to play against Chicago without giving up double-digit scoring chances because they’re just too good.”
Hitchcock was talking about double-digit scoring chances for the game, but that’s how many the Blackhawks seemed to have in the first period alone Tuesday night.
Unfortunately for the Hawks, goalie Brian Elliott stopped almost everything. What Elliott couldn’t keep out of the net was Patrick Kane’s goal at 7:20 when he led a 3-on-0 and worked a give-and-go with Patrick Sharp.
Brent Seabrook added a second-period, power-play goal, Viktor Stalberg scored in the third to make it 3-0, and the Hawks held on to defeat the Blues 3-2 at the United Center for their third straight win to start the season.
It’s the first time since 1972-73 the Hawks have won their first three games. They’ve now defeated the Stanley Cup champions in the Kings and two division winners in Phoenix and St. Louis.
A sellout crowd of 21,455 greeted the Hawks in their first home game following the three-month lockout.
“We’re happy to get the win for our fans,” Jonathan Toews said. “It’s just amazing to see their support out there. They’ve been waiting a long time to see their team play. To go out there and work like we did against a strong team like St. Louis was a good way to come back and kick-start the season.”
Toews had a feeling the building would be rocking again.
“Not to say I take it for granted, but I had a feeling,” Toews said. “We’ve got amazing fans here in Chicago; we know that. We don’t take that support for granted for one second.
“We love it and appreciate it. We want to keep giving them what they want and what they deserve, and that’s wins and that’s great hockey.”
Kane admitted he did a double take when he looked up and saw no Blues defensemen between himself, Sharp and Dave Bolland on the rush up the ice.
“I thought it would be a 2-on-1 or something; I didn’t think it would be a 3-on-0,” Kane said.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a 3-on-0 in our league,” Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “Not even the games you participated in, I don’t know if I’ve seen one.”
Seabrook was credited with the Hawks’ second goal on a power play in the second period when a slap shot from the deep slot by Duncan Keith went in off his skate.
Goalie Corey Crawford started the play with a nice poke check of the puck away from David Backes to the right of the net. Toews grabbed it and took off the other way, stopping over the blue line and finding Keith.
“I was looking first of all for a bounce from the boards, but it kind of died in the corner,” Crawford said. “I should have known that already because our boards aren’t lively at all.
“When he got it I just figured I’d try to take away his time and try a sweeping poke check on him.”
The Blues were pushing for the tying goal right to the final horn.
“When the game was on the line he was big,” Quenneville said of Crawford. “He made a couple really big, big saves.”
Toews was one of the Hawks whom Hitchcock praised before the game, along with Marian Hossa.
“To me, there’s skill and then there’s skill with strength,” Hitchcock said. “Both of those guys have skill with strength. They both can buy enough time 1-on-1 to make it difficult. They’re probably the best pair right now in the league where they can buy time to created 2-on-1s because they’re both so strong on the puck.”
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