Halak keeps Chicago scoreless; St. Louis wins third
straight over division rivals as Backes, Steen score goals
By LOUIE KORAC
CHICAGO -- David Backes claims he would have trouble pulling off T.J. Oshie's shootout goal on PlayStation. Oshie claims Backes doesn't know how to play PlayStation.
Whoever could pull it off on PlayStation, Xbox, or any of a variety of gaming systems on the market today, it would be equally as impressive.
And regardless of who can and who can't, Oshie's real-life shootout goal Thursday night at United Center helped the St. Louis Blues rebound off a discouraging loss.
(St. Louis Blues/Getty Images)
The Blues' T.J. Oshie (right) battles with Chicago's Niklas Hjalmarsson
for the puck Thursday night. Oshie's shootout goal gave the Blues a
Oshie, who also collected his 200th NHL point with an assist, beat Corey Crawford with a slick move to his forehand.
The Blues (5-1-0) have now beaten the Blackhawks (4-1-2) in three straight, and Backes was still marveling at Oshie's 19th career shootout goal.
"I can only do that on PlayStation, even then I can't do it," said Backes, who played in his 500th career game -- all with the Blues.
Could Backes pull it off as his PlayStation character?
"Definitely not me," Backes said with a laugh. "The guy that they made for me throws it into the corner when I do too much with it."
Oshie begged to differ.
"I don't think Backs plays PlayStation," Oshie said with a big grin.
"I think I've only shot a shootout on [Crawford] once, maybe twice before. One time I think I tried to go five-hole and he didn't move and I hit him in the pads. It's just one of those things that you make a move and you hope it works and it worked out."
Oshie said he didn't watch any shootout video but got some small tips from teammate Chris Stewart.
"I didn't watch the shootout video that I usually do," Oshie said. "So on the bench, I went to Stew, I saw him watching it earlier and he said, 'Maybe a quick backhand was working on some guys.' Some guys he thought you could do a backhand, forehand.
"I've done that move before in shootouts. I thought I would give her a try and tried to get one on the board. I was fortunate that [Crawford] bit on that first move."
The Blues have won eight straight one-goal games dating back to last season and are now 15-4-2 in their last 21 one-goal games.
Backes and Alexander Steen scored goals, Jay Bouwmeester picked up a pair of assists and Halak stopped 27 shots. He also was able to make saves on Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp after Patrick Kane fired wide on Chicago's first attempt.
"I think that was my first game in Chicago that I won in four years since I joined St. Louis," Halak said. "... I just tried to stay with them and not to try to go down on the first fake. Luckily, Osh came up with a great move and good for us it was enough to win the game."
Marian Hossa had a goal and an assist for the Blackhawks, Brandon Pirri scored his first NHL goal and Crawford stopped 26 shots.
No, awful," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said of his team's effort. "Didn’t like our game at all ... first 12 minutes I liked.
"Early we had that and I don’t know. We stopped getting behind them, getting it at the net. We slowed ourselves right down. Didn’t like our pace, how we turned pucks over, didn’t get pucks to the net, didn’t generate any offense after the first. Twice in a row [they score right after]. Back to back, penalty kill, couple tips at the net. That’s what they do: they put pucks on the net. They score ugly goals. We’re not willing to do that."
Blackhawks defensemen Brent Seabrook agreed.
"We did a good job in the first period, but our second and third periods have to be better," Seabrook said. "We're having a tough time finding the back of the net but with that being said, we have to muscle these games out and win them 2-0, 2-1, 1-0. That's the mindset we have to have when we're not scoring goals."
Pirri got the Hawks on the board when Hossa picked off a Roman Polak outlet pass and fed Pirri in the left circle. Pirri quickly snapped a high shot stick side past Halak 7:42 into the game for a 1-0 Hawks lead.
Backes helped the Blues tie the game 1-1 just five seconds into a power play when he won a faceoff, went straight to the net and tipped a Jay Bouwmeester wrister by Crawford at 10:14 of the first.
It was Backes' fifth goal in six games. He didn't score his fifth goal last season until the 36th game.
The second period was more defensive, but in the waning moments, the teams traded goals 51 seconds apart.
Hossa gave Chicago a 2-1 lead with 2:38 left in the period when the Blues surrendered the puck while entering the Blackhawks' zone, with Barret Jackman losing it as the puck rolled off his stick. Players behind him were going off on a line change, and Niklas Hjalmarsson sent Hossa in on a breakaway and he beat Halak high stick side.
But the Blues quickly tied it at 18:13 when a double-deflector got past Crawford. Bouwmeester's shot from the left point was initially tipped by Steen in the high slot, then the puck caromed off Duncan Keith's stick to tie the game 2-2.
The Blues had a response after each Chicago one-goal lead and stuck with the game plan two days after a woeful 6-2 home loss to the San Jose Sharks.
"Overall our whole game was a lot better," Bouwmeester said. "It was kind of where it needed to be to play against teams like this. Obviously against San Jose, we didn't and we've got to learn from it. Tonight was better."
Added Hitchcock: "If you look at both goals, it was Backes' line that did it, and it was Backes' line that stabilized the next shift for us, which is what we needed. Rather than go and try to hit the home run, they just started to play again. They had a heck of a game as a line and stabilized us when we needed it every time."
(St. Louis Blues/Getty Images)
Blues players (left to right) David Backes, T.J. Oshie, Alex Pietrangelo and Jay
Bouwmeester celebrate Backes' goal in the first period at Chicago Thursday.
Crawford produced the best save of the third period when he was able to sprawl out on Alex Pietrangelo's attempt coming down the slot, as Pietrangelo tried to slide wide to the right, but Crawford stood his ground with 7:22 remaining in the third.
Jackman nearly won it for the Blues with 1:44 left in overtime when he hit the left goal post.
It's the first time in the teams' last 10 meetings that the team that scored first didn't win. It was Chicago's sixth straight one-goal game.
"I thought after the first 10 minutes, we played really well," said Blues coach Ken Hitchcock, whose team will play at Winnipeg Friday night. "We weathered the storm, we knew we were going to weather a storm from what happened in the last game, but I thought the first 10 minutes, we played a really good hockey game, especially in the third period and overtime.
"I thought we played especially strong. We really played a sense of composure and discipline. I was really happy with our effort."
The Blues' three straight wins over Chicago is the first time it's happened since March 27, 2004-Oct. 11, 2005.
"As the game went on, I thought we put more and more pucks in that area and got second and third chances," Hitchcock said. "More than anything, we just had to find a way as the game moved along to make them spend more time in their zone than they wanted to because when they come at you with that speed and that rush attack, it's pretty scary to watch. They can make plays through you. I thought as the game went along, we made them spend more and more time in their zone.
"You talk about team wins, this was a team win. We got contribution right throughout the lineup."