The Blues' David Backes, left, knocks down Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith in the Blackhawks' 5-1 loss Tuesday. (Getty photo)

Hawks abysmal in 5-1 setback

Wed, 03-07-2012
By: Chris Kuc

ST. LOUIS — The Blackhawks got a lesson on just how tough — literally and figuratively — the Blues have become this season.

Pushed around from the opening puck drop, the Hawks had their three-game winning streak unceremoniously snapped during a 5-1 thrashing Tuesday night at Scottrade Center as the Blues opened up a 12-point lead over them in the Central Division.

The bruising Blues hit everything wearing an Indian head and had the Hawks on their heels early before cruising to their sixth victory in their last seven games. Poor special teams plagued the Hawks as they went 0-for-5 on the power play, allowed the Blues a short-handed goal and gave up a score while down a man.

"It seems like since the first shift they took over," said Hawks winger Marian Hossa, who didn't get a shot off in 22 minutes, 14 seconds of ice time. "They played really well, especially defensively. Our power play wasn't good. We couldn't settle the puck down, we couldn't make a pass and they were forechecking us hard. We didn't deserve to win. It just wasn't good enough."

Andy McDonald had two goals while T.J. Oshie, Vladimir Sobotka (short-handed) and Jason Arnott also scored for the Blues, who are now 34-0-0 when scoring three goals or more. Alex Pietrangelo and Kevin Shattenkirk each added two assists and Jaroslav Halak was stingy in goal for St. Louis.

Andrew Brunette scored but it wasn't nearly enough as goaltender Ray Emery suffered the loss for the Hawks, who were without captain Jonathan Toews for the eighth consecutive game with a suspected concussion. The Hawks finished their three-game trip with four points after previously playing some of their best hockey in dispatching the Senators and Red Wings, respectively.

"We did some good things the last couple of games," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "That's the way we have to play to have some success and (Tuesday night) we didn't have the same."

After racing to a 2-0 lead after one period on Oshie and McDonald goals, the Blues delivered the back-breaker early in the second when Sobotka scored while the Hawks were on the power play.

"Probably one of their goals was to play physical against us," Hawks forward Patrick Kane said. "It seemed to work for them."

Brunette's first goal in 27 games in the opening moments of the third gave the Hawks hope, but the Blues finished things with late scores from McDonald and Arnott.

"We didn't play as well as we did the last couple of games but they're a very good team," Hawks defenseman Johnny Oduya said. "If you don't have that 'A' game it's tough to win."

The victory gave the Blues 91 points in the Central, which puts them two points ahead of the Red Wings for the top spot.

"We want to be up there after April 7," Oshie said of the end of the regular season. "It's nice to be there now, but we want to be there later."