CHICAGO -- It was one of those games that likely promoted the Chicago Blackhawks to do what they did in free agency last summer.
The Hawks, who signed a handful of veteran free agents last summer to add some bite to a highly-skilled lineup, stood toe-to-toe with the Central Division rival St. Louis Blues on Saturday in a road game that felt a little bit like a playoff game.
Chicago earned a 5-2 win and got exactly what the Hawks were looking for out of forward Daniel Carcillo -- who was bumped to the top line early in that game with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane to provide some protection and grit.
It turned out to be a wise move. In the second period, Carcillo found himself jumping in to defend Toews and Kane in the same post-whistle skirmish -- first coming to the aid of Kane behind the net and then flying over to a nearby scrap between Toews and David Backes.
"I think that's probably why they made the line change early in the game," Kane said. "They knew how St. Louis was going to play and they probably wanted a physical guy to come in and help us out. It worked out real well. He played a real good game and he stepped up for us."
It was a big hit among the rest of his teammates, too.
"We love it," Hawks forward Patrick Sharp said. "It fires a lot of the guys up on the bench when you see Danny Carcillo fly across the ice and tackle Backes when he's trying to get after (Toews). That kind of stuff brings us together and makes us play that much harder. That's what I'm happy with about our team. We can play more than one way and win a game and we showed that against St. Louis."
The game got even testier as it played out and looked a bit like some of the old Blues-Hawks games, which often were filled with penalty minutes and flying fists. A big difference, however, was one of the key players wearing a Blackhawks uniform.
Jamal Mayers, who played for Quenneville when he coached the Blues and got into plenty of scraps then, now is a Blackhawk after signing a one-year deal last summer. The Hawks certainly approve.
"Normally we go into St. Louis and we've got Jamal snorting on the other side trying to get after all of us," Sharp said. "It's nice to have him on our side now."