Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Blues' comeback bid in Chicago falls short

Team finds no moral victories despite third
period rally, look for bounce-back against Nashville

ST. LOUIS -- As admirable as their near-comeback was in a tough building to win in Tuesday night, the Blues want to make it clear: there are no moral victories.

Even if it was the Blues' third game in four nights to start the season.

The first period was tough, the second period was better, but the third period was theirs ... aside from the first two minutes when Chicago's Viktor Stalberg scored what turned out to be the decisive goal in a 3-2 Blackhawks victory.

"We're a better hockey team than that," said Blues winger Andy McDonald, who got the third period rally started with his second goal in as many games. "We're not going to sit there and be happy with one period."
(Getty Images)
The Blues' Vladimir Tarasenko (91) gets off a shot on Chicago goaltender
Corey Crawford (left) during Tuesday night's game.

And that's about what the Blues had ... one period.

The Blues (2-1) had dug themselves a three-goal deficit but finally were able to find their legs and attacked with fervor for much of the third period.

They got goals from McDonald and T.J. Oshie and pushed to the final horn and nearly stole a point at the end.

But in a shortened season, the bottom line is all that matters, and that was evidenced by the mood in the locker room afterwards at United Center.

"It's just not enough," McDonald said. "If you're looking for positives, that (third period's) it. ... Ells (Brian Elliott) stood on his head making huge saves for us (early in the game). It was a one-goal game, we came back and played hard in the third, made it interesting. But we've got to play harder than that.

"That wasn't the team we're capable of being in the first. It took us a while to get going. We just didn't manage the puck well, didn't make the plays that we're normally capable of making."

The Blues, who got two points in a tough, hard-fought 4-3 shootout victory Monday in Nashville, had the quick turnaround against a Hawks team that had also won its first two games at Los Angeles and Phoenix, in back-to-back fashion.

Chicago (3-0) was also playing its third game in four days but did have the benefit of a day off Monday, awaiting the Blues for its home opener.

"Three in four ... it's early in the season. We can't use that excuse," said defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, who added another assist and now has five in three games. "We had the energy. We saw it in the third. We were able to muster up some energy and make a run for it. (But) we have to play 60 minutes."

Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said it was all about puck management.

"The way we managed it in the third period, we did a good job even though we were down," Hitchcock said. "... (But) we had some uneven performances and uneven puck play."

Which made a busy man out of Elliott, who stopped 24 shots but had to come up big in the first period after some sloppy play by the Blues that resulted in multiple odd-man rushes.

"It was a one-goal game, but Ells played unbelievable," McDonald said. "The score's probably a little worse than that (without those saves).
(Getty Images)
The Blues' T.J. Oshie scores in the third period Tuesday at Chicago. But
the Blackhawks were able to hold on for a 3-2 victory.

"That's part of the situation now with the schedule the way it is. ... There's no reason fatigue should be a factor."

The Blues will begin another stretch of three games in four nights beginning Thursday night at home in a rematch with the Predators (1-0-2), who picked up their first win of the season Tuesday in Minnesota.

After a day off Wednesday, the Blues can only look to bring that third period mentality with them into another tough Central Division game.

"The third period, we just got back to our game and played with a little urgency, a little desperation," Shattenkirk said. "When we do that, it always seems to work out for us."

* NOTES -- The Blues activated Wade Redden to the active roster, placed Jeff Woywitka on waivers and assigned Ian Cole to Peoria to make room for Redden. Once Woywitka clears waivers/is claimed, Cole will be recalled and his assignment is only a formality. Redden, who signed a one-year, pro-rated $800,000 contract, is likely to make his Blues debut against Nashville. ... Oshie's goal Tuesday came on the power play, giving the Blues six goals in nine chances with the man advantage to begin the season, which is tops in the NHL. ... Shattenkirk (five points, 0-5) and Alex Pietrangelo (four points, 1-4) are Nos. 1 and 2 in the NHL in scoring among defensemen. ... The Blues have won three in a row against Nashville and are 7-2-3 in the last 12 meetings.

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