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Hawks return home after long trip to host Blues

Saturday, 02.18.2012 / 8:52 PM

Davis Harper - NHL.com Staff Writer

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Hawks return home after long trip to host Blues
St. Louis Blues vs. Chicago Blackhawks
BLUES (36-15-7) at BLACKHAWKS (31-21-7)


TV: NBC (HD); TSN2

LAST 10: St. Louis 7-2-1; Chicago 2-7-1

Season Series: This is the third of six season meetings between these Central Division foes, and the first at Chicago's United Center. The teams split the first two, with Chicago coming away with a 5-2 win on Dec. 3 -- making the Hawks one of three teams to beat the Blues in regulation at the Scottrade Center this season.

Big Story: Chicago is back home after a nine-game road trip that was looking like a disaster until the last two games -- the Hawks lost the first seven before finishing with wins at New York and Columbus. Their opposition hasn't been too shabby, either. The Blues have won six of seven to pull within three points of conference-leading Detroit.

Team Scope:

Blues : St. Louis is a defense-first team, but its success hinges on an uncanny ability to convert the chances they manage to create. On Saturday, blueliner Barrett Jackman and grinder Ryan Reaves both snapped lengthy scoring slumps, evidence of St. Louis growing ever stronger. It was a comprehensive defeat of the hapless Wild, one in which St. Louis allowed only 13 shots on goal, scored on the power play and had at least one goal in each period.

"It's pretty unbelievable watching what we can do with the puck and when we're skating and when we're on the same page," said goalie Brian Elliott, who lowered his NHL-leading goals-against average to 1.55 and tied Henrik Lundqvist in save percentage at .941. "It's exciting to see what we can do. We know what we can do. Maybe they didn't have their best game of the season, but we definitely didn't give them a chance to get into it. I think we just need to carry that on."

Blackhawks: While the Blues were dismembering the Wild with surgical precision, the Hawks were busy bludgeoning lowly Columbus. After snapping the nine-game skid with a 4-2 win over the mighty Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Thursday, Chicago made their return to the conference's elite official with a 6-1 hammering of the Jackets on Saturday. Derick Brassard gave Columbus an early lead, but it was all Chicago after that. The line of Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp and Patrick Kane tore up the Jackets, combining for three goals and eight points.

"Obviously, the first seven games were tough but sometimes you come out of it with positives," Kane said of the road trip. "The last two games we can look at it and we played good today, and we played good the last game. Hopefully we can get hot here. It's going to be nice going home today and actually just being there for a while."

Who's Hot: Toews has two goals and five assists in his last two games, and also has a goal and assist against the Blues this season. … St. Louis defenseman Alex Pietrangelo has five assists in his last two games.

Injury Report: In a contentious moment Saturday, Blues' center David Backes left the game after being hit in the head by a Warren Peters' cross-check. Coach Ken Hitchcock said Backes will be available Sunday. Defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo (sprained right wrist) and goalie Jaroslav Halak (flu-like symptoms) missed the game. Matt D'Agostini (head) and Alexander Steen (concussion-like symptoms) are on injured reserve. … For Chicago, Niklas Hjalmarsson missed Saturday's game with concussion-like symptoms. Steve Montador (upper body) and Daniel Carcillo (left knee surgery) are on IR.

Stat Pack: With the two wins, Chicago put a positive bookend on what could have been a season-killing road trip. The Blackhawks play four of their next six at home, where they are 19-6-4. St. Louis' only loss in its last seven came away from home, at Columbus on Tuesday, and the Blues are under .500 on the road (10-12-3) -- and begin a season-ending stretch in which they will play 16 of their final 24 games away from home. … If Halak is still out with the flu, Elliott must play for the second time in two days. Despite his gaudy statistics, the goalie conceded more goals - four - in the loss to Chicago on Dec. 3 than he has in any other outing.

Puck Drop: "As we went along we weren't thinking of the nine games as a whole. We were just trying to find a way out of that funk that we were in. It's huge to snap that losing streak but to come back with a win like we did today I would say was even bigger. We need to keep building off those good things we've been doing. Go work on getting another two points at home tomorrow and be excited about getting back home." - Toews

2011-2012 season series
DateScoreW. Goal
Mar 29 '12STL 3 at CHI 4 - SOD. Bolland
Mar 13 '12STL 3 at CHI 4 - SOP. Kane
Mar 06 '12CHI 1 at STL 5A. McDonald
Feb 19 '12STL 1 at CHI 3D. Bolland
Dec 03 '11CHI 5 at STL 2P. Sharp
Nov 08 '11CHI 0 at STL 3V. Sobotka
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
D. Backes59172542+178554
T. Oshie57152439+134222
A. Pietrangelo58102434+172445
D. Perron34111627+132042
P. Berglund59131326+02202
K. Shattenkirk5871926+234232
J. Arnott52131225+112242
A. Steen36131124+202223
C. Stewart56111122+58020
J. Langenbrunner5741721+92002
M. D'Agostini529918+152233
V. Sobotka5031417+133201
C. Colaiacovo4321315+91202
R. Polak5901111+45300
B. Jackman581910+193800
K. Russell46538+92101
C. Porter32426+1401
A. McDonald8336+2210
S. Nichol59235-35600
K. Huskins12235+6200
I. Cole18145+61400
E. Grachev26134-4201
R. Reaves41112+07601
B. Crombeen24112+14100
A. Cracknell2101+1000
C. Fairchild5011-1000
N. Nikitin7000-5400
B. Sterling4000-1000
T. Chorney2000+0000
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%
B. Elliott2920-6-2447371.56.940
J. Halak3216-10-5628021.97.923
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
M. Hossa59233558+231672
J. Toews59292857+172854
P. Sharp52242751+213446
P. Kane60133649+133022
D. Keith5742933+122211
V. Stalberg57161632+32406
D. Bolland56171330-53762
N. Leddy6032427-111000
B. Seabrook5651924+141412
A. Brunette5991120-10440
M. Kruger5061016+01800
S. Montador515914+44521
B. Bickell496713-54400
M. Frolik515813-92200
J. Mayers605712+07701
N. Hjalmarsson5411112+51000
B. Morrison334711-2800
D. Carcillo282911+108200
A. Shaw19549-71801
J. Hayes15437-11110
S. O'Donnell43077-41700
B. Smith13202-5000
S. Lepisto17112+4400
B. Pirri5022+2000
J. Scott26011+04400
D. Olsen8011+1000
R. Olesz6000-1600
J. Morin3000-1000
B. Saad2000+0000
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%
C. Crawford4221-14-511511782.87.902
R. Emery2311-7-2585722.82.899