You'd have thought the St. Louis Blues would have learned by now you can't intimidate the Blackhawks.
The Blues tried again Sunday at Scottrade Center, going after Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa physically early and engaging in scrum after scrum following whistles. The Hawks mostly turned the other cheek in a tidy 2-0 victory.
Blackhawks game dayDallas Stars at the United Center, 7 p.m.
TV: Comcast SportsNet
Radio: WGN 720-AM
The skinny: The Hawks, who have won five in a row, will play their second straight game without Patrick Sharp (shoulder). Coach Joel Quenneville wouldn't say after Sunday's 2-0 win at St. Louis if Corey Crawford or Ray Emery would start in goal. Despite trading away Jaromir Jagr, Derek Roy and Brenden Morrow ahead of the deadline, the Stars remain very much in the playoff chase in the Western Conference with 45 points.
Season series: Hawks lead 2-0.
Next: Nashville Predators at the United Center, 7:30 p.m. Friday
-- Tim Sassone
Corey Crawford made 30 saves to backstop the NHL leaders in points to their fifth straight win.
"I think teams are going to try to get to us and push our skill guys around, but I think we've just got to ignore it like we did today," Crawford said.
"I think this team was a good test for us for a playoff style of hockey.
"They play hard and are physical. It just seems they're all over the ice, but we didn't play into their game. We let them do their thing. They were trying to get us off our game, but we just stuck with the way we play and waited for our chances."
The Blues did knock Toews out of the game briefly in the first period when David Backes checked him hard into the boards, catching his knee in the process. But Toews returned for the second period and set up Hossa's key short-handed goal in the third that made it 2-0.
"I took a couple bumps last game and this one, so I just went and threw some ice on it -- nothing too serious," Toews said. "There was a lot of physical play and a lot of running around, but I think we just kind of stuck with it and didn't let it frustrate us. We let them play their game and we stuck to ours."
Bryan Bickell also scored, and that's all Crawford needed.
"I felt good today, but I think the main thing is everyone is playing well," Crawford said after his third shutout of the season. "We need everyone to play well every night, and so far this year it's been pretty much that for every game."
Bickell's goal was just what Hawks coach Joel Quenneville wanted to see from his team.
"They check well and they play that tight game and don't give up much space and time, and you've got to make sure when you get a chance to get ahead of them," Quenneville said. "It's a different game when you're chasing that team."
The Blues remained sixth in the tightly bunched Western Conference with 48 points.
Bickell tapped in his own rebound on a rush early in the second period past goalie Brian Elliott.
Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said his team needed more hard-nosed play and less fancy play.
"The first goal is a perfect example," Hitchcock said. "We're in a position to shoot the puck, we stickhandle it, try to put it through someone's leg, and five seconds later it's in our net. Not the way you're going to win against good teams."
Hossa scored his 15th of the season at 6:34 of the third on a one-timer that beat Elliott on the glove side.
"Johnny told me where to stand basically and he's so good on faceoffs, so he won it cleanly and I tried to open up and hit a slap shot," Hossa said. "Obviously, I didn't hit it exactly where I wanted to, but there was a good bounce."
The Hawks won despite playing without Patrick Sharp, who was a late scratch with an upper-body injury. Sharp probably will miss Monday's game against Dallas as well.
•Follow Tim's hockey reports on Twitter @TimSassone and check out his Between the Circles blog at dailyherald.com.