Fans knew it was gonna be tough even before the gloves came off.
But the Blackhawks capped a good week with a 4-2 win over Central Division leader St. Louis on Sunday at the United Center. Chicago now has won three straight for the first time since December.
"I thought, three games in a row, I thought we played the exact same way. Played the right way," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "Worked hard, very effective, efficient. Everybody contributed and scored some ugly goals, but played the right way to get rewarded."
The Hawks, who have three games left in the regular season, trailed second-place Colorado by one point heading into the Avalanche's game Sunday night.
Young guns Jeremy Morin and Ben Smith stepped up while stars Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews were out with injuries.
"It takes everybody to win games and to win series," Patrick Sharp said. "We know that going forward here. That's what we're building up towards. Those guys have been good the last three games chipping in offensively."
The penalty box was expected to be full, and this game did not disappoint. The Hawks now have won two of the five matchups against the Blues this season. In one of those games, Brandon Bollig had a season-high 17 penalty minutes.
This time, the Blues spent more time in the sin bin with 15 minutes, two more than the Hawks, and racked up 40 hits to the Hawks' 23.
NBC analyst Eddie Olczyk was most impressed with the officials' ability to control the game; the only fight was between Bollig and the Blues' Ryan Reaves.
But there were other penalties that RedEye wanted to call.
Hey, that's not your bench, Andrew Shaw. He was roughed up near the St. Louis bench and was sent to the penalty box for cross checking less than two minutes in. The Blues responded seconds later with the first goal of the game.
Penalty: Kidding around
Jeremy Morin whiffed on a check in the first period and used the Hawks boards like a Slip 'N Slide. For a few seconds, all fans saw were legs in the air. But he saved face with a goal and an assist.
"I'm not really thinking," he said. "Before I was kind of thinking too much. I'm just playing the game right now."
Blues goalie Brian Elliott stopped 31 Blackhawks shots. That included 18 combined by Marian Hossa, Patrick Sharp and Joakim Nordstrom. If not for Elliott, the Hawks might have had a laugher.
Penalty: Ice dancing
The fight between Brandon Bollig and Ryan Reaves, which had been brewing for a while, was more pairs figure skating than boxing match. They threw off the gloves seconds after Morin's goal tied it at 1. They each got in a few jabs before Bollig patted Reaves on the rear end and skated off. And the crowd applauded at the end of their performance—er, fight.
Penalty: Beer run
Fans who wanted to beat the rush to the concession stands probably missed Patrick Sharp's 33rd goal of the season. With less than 30 seconds left in the second period, Morin found Sharp on a two-on-one, who fired it off the left post and in.
"Morin is a great shooter in his own right," Sharp said. "I thought for sure he was going to take that one."
Fans might have also missed Marcus Kruger's goal less than a minute into the third period if they were still in line. That should teach them to stay in their seats.
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