Friday, October 22, 2010

Blues close out Blackhawks this time, win 4-2

Perron leads charge with two goals, Oshie gains pair
of assists; Polak nets game-winner in third period

ST. LOUIS -- So what was different about the Blues' finish Friday night as opposed to Monday night's overtime loss to the Chicago Blackhawks?

Nothing, except the result.

As coach Davis Payne put it, just stick to the team's process, make smart decisions and the result will tilt the Blues' way this time around.

Roman Polak's shot from the far right boards turned out to be the difference, and it snapped a tie game in the third period that helped the Blues double up the Blackhawks, 4-2, Friday night before 19,150 at Scottrade Center.

The Blues (3-1-2), who saw a 2-0 lead with under seven minutes to play slip away in Monday's 3-2 overtime loss at Chicago (5-3-1), led twice in this contest but saw Chicago tie it twice.

But when Polak's shot was able to squirt through a Blackhawks defender, past David Backes' screen and past Hawks goalie Marty Turco, the Blues were dead-set on closing this game out.

"We talked about the fact that we were in a fight," Blues coach Davis Payne said. "This is a game that we can win on body punches. You don't have to take one swing and then all of the sudden, we miss and Chicago comes down and knocks us out.

"We knew we were going to play the full 20 minutes and we knew we were going to put pucks in areas that we could apply our forecheck, apply aggression and apply pressure to the net, and I thought we did a real good job of that."

David Perron scored twice, as he now has four goals in the last two games -- all against the Blackhawks -- in what may have been his best game as a Blue.

"He was good tonight," Payne said of his first-line winger. "He was very good tonight. It was a statement by him ... We had a conversation (Friday) afternoon about what he had accomplished during training camp. Let's not let five games or a two-goal game in Chicago (Monday) cloud the picture that we feel that he came into training camp and established a great deal. And let's pick back up that mentality. I thought he certainly played his best game of the year. He was a difference-maker all 200 feet of the ice and a lot of different situations. He had real good intent to his game."

Perron potted the first two Blues goals on assists from T.J. Oshie. He came into training camp dedicated to playing a two-way game and becoming more involved on both ends of the ice.

"There's some little details I wasn't doing right," Perron said. "I've been working hard, but sometimes you have to work a little bit harder to get into better positions," Perron said. "I thought I did that tonight. ... Sometimes, you just get the right bounces and I did that on the two goals tonight."

Perron created the first goal by forcing Hawks defenseman Duncan Keith into a turnover before getting a pass from Oshie in the high slot. Perron snapped a shot high over Turco's glove hand for a 1-0 lead in he first.

Perron then took a give-and-go play with Oshie, curled around Hawks defenseman Nick Boynton before lifting a backhand past Turco for a 2-1 Blues lead in the second.

"We're kind of realizing that little give-and-go plays go a long way," Oshie said. "That's what you need to build chemistry is to know what the other guy is doing, especially on the second one. I knew he was going to give it to me and keep going to the net. Little things like that make a big difference."

But on each Perron goal, Chicago was able to tie the game. Patrick Sharp's power play goal in the first tied the score 1-1, and Brent Seabrook's shot that glanced off Oshie's stick in the second as time expired on another power play tied the game 2-2.

However, the Blues had 20 minutes to win a game, just like they did Monday night in Chicago.

This time, they made no mistake.

Polak pinched in and caught a Hawks errant clearing pass, used Backes as a screen and threw a puck that had eyes and got past Turco with 8 minutes 59 seconds to play.

"Just put it on the net. It was a tough puck," Polak said. "It was sticking on the boards so I just wanted to put it on the net. I had my head down and just put it through Turco's pads.

"I didn't see (Backes) at all. I was just focused on the puck, and I was like, 'Yeah, I have to put it on the net.' But I didn't see him. It was a great screen by him."

Payne called it the correct read.

"We put ourselves in the right spot," he said. "(Chicago) decided under that pressure to weak-side rim it. ... We talked about traffic on Turco, we gave him some good looks the other day in Chicago. We wanted to take a few of those away and traffic allows that one to go in, whether it hits (Backes) or not. Our d-men have to have a responsibility on the forecheck and Roman's responsibility was that exact same play."

And once the Blues got the lead, they played to win rather than to lose.

"That's always been a question with us is closing out teams, closing out games," Oshie said. "That killer instinct that I think we have here at home definitely needs to come on the road with us.

"It's huge. The great teams put away teams in the third period. We've been seeing that lately at home."

Patrik Berglund also scored for the Blues, a power play goal with 1:03 to play to ice the game. Jaroslav Halak stopped 23 shots, including some key saves in the third period.

"The third period, we were really playing good hockey," Halak said. "We kept (the puck) to the outside most of the time. If there were some rebounds for me, our guys were there for me and that's what we need to win the games."

The win gives the Blues a 3-0 record at home. They didn't win their third game at Scottrade Center until Nov. 19, a span of 11 games in which they were 3-7-1.

"We kept playing the same way," Perron said. "That's the great thing about it. ... Tonight, we found a way to close it."

* NOTES -- Oshie has at least a point in five straight games. ... IndyCar and NASCAR driver Danica Patrick dropped the ceremonial first puck. ... The Blues honored Hockey Fights Cancer Awareness Night by wearing pink laces on their skates. ... The Blues have played the Blackhawks more than any other team. Friday was the 271st meeting between the teams.

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