[49-22-11]
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02/19/2012
FINAL
[45-26-11]
123T
STL1001
30SHOTS27
24FACEOFFS26
26HITS30
23PIM19
0/1PP0/3
2GIVEAWAYS9
5TAKEAWAYS7
15BLOCKED SHOTS3
     

Blues suffer rare third-period collapse against Hawks

Sunday, 02.19.2012 / 3:13 PM

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks won't forget the prolonged losing skid they just left behind them. But the best way to alleviate the frustration is to start anew -- by winning.

The St. Louis Blues have been outstanding at protecting two-period leads. But the Blackhawks have four come-from-behind wins when trailing after two.

The Blues, who carried much of the play through two periods, only led by one. They left the door open for the Hawks and that door was kicked in, as the Hawks overcame that second-period deficit on goals by Duncan Keith and Dave Bolland's goal with 6:57 remaining proved to be the difference in a 3-1 win over the Blues Sunday afternoon at United Center as part of Hockey Day in America.

Chicago just absorbed an 0-8-1 stretch that knocked them from the top of the Western Conference, dropping them all the way down to sixth. But winning their third in a row seems to have righted the ship ... at least momentarily.

"I always think there's enough offense in our group," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "And a night like tonight, it took a while to come out, but it's there, but it's the other end that we can be better, and I see signs that everyone is committed."

Corey Crawford was solid for the second straight game, stopping 29 shots as the Hawks improved to 32-21-7 with the win and picked up two badly-needed points for their third straight win while improving to 5-19-2 when trailing after two. It was the Hawks' first game at home in 26 days following a nine-game road trip in which they went 2-6-1, winning the final two.

"It feels really good, it's only for the better that we went through that (losing streak)," Crawford said. "We really see how we need to play. We're doing the little things right, we're not forcing anything.

"(Sunday's game was) the perfect game to show it. We're down most of the game, but we're not trying to do too much to try and get one, we're putting the puck in the right places and waiting for our chance."

With the Blues leading 1-0, Keith finally got the Hawks on the board, when his one-timer from the top of the left circle beat Elliott glove-side. The Blues had just missed an opportunity to make it 2-0 on the other end and Chicago came back and cashed in to tie it 1-1 4:52 into the final period.

"I didn't even see him. There's bodies there," Elliott said of Keith, who also had an assist. "Sometimes those squeak through the crowd and you have a hard time reacting after trying to pick it up after the crowd."

Bolland gave the Hawks a 2-1 lead when his pass from the right of Elliott into the crease area caromed off David Backes' skate. Backes tried corralling the puck as it squirted in, giving Chicago the lead for good.

"I saw (Patrick) Kane just to my left and I was trying to give it to him but it went off Backes' skate and into the net. I'll take it," Bolland said. "We can't wait for those pretty ones, they are going to be ugly ones and they're going to be tight games. The one thing we have to be ready for is these games coming down the stretch are going to be tight."

Added Backes: "It's tough luck, but we should be out of the zone before that, (we) don't make plays to get it out and I boot one in the back of our net and failed on a couple opportunities to score in their net. Such is life.

"We need to be better all around and not have it go down to 10 minutes left where we're on our heels and they're really bringing pressure to us."

The Blues (36-16-7), who were 25-1-1 with a second-period lead, got a goal from Andy McDonald, while Brian Elliott was the tough-luck loser in goal by stopping 24 shots. He had his shutout streak over three games end at 163:53.

"It's a case to not sticking to our game long enough," Backes said. "We felt pretty good about our first period. We were on a roll. Andy McDonald's line does a great job of sustaining pressure. ... Scotty Nichol's line the same, but the other two lines not enough.

"When you only have half of your forwards going on the road, it's going to be tough to win. I think that's the case tonight."

The Blues carried much of the play in the first period. McDonald had a shorthanded chance, but his backhand was high and wide of Crawford. They also got point shots off the post from Kris Russell and two from Alex Pietrangelo.

"I just missed," McDonald said of his shorthanded attempt. "I think I got a crossbar or elbow there. I had a couple chances there where I've got to bear down and put it in the back of the net. Langs (Jamie Langenbrunner) made a nice play to put me in there alone and Backs gave me the other one. I don't get too many chances like that, so you've got to capitalize."

But after Pietrangelo's shot late in the first clanked off the pipe, McDonald was able to get his third goal in as many games. The Blues led but didn't sustain their first period intensity.

"Yeah, but you've got to play 60 on the road," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "We're a team right now that needs everybody to perform at a high level for us to win on the road. The way we're structured and the way we're built, we don't have offensive players to carry us, so if we have people who are not up to task, it reflects in our game.

"We get chances by volume, we get chances by rolling four lines. That first nine rotation, when we've got weak players, as the game wears on, we get exposed, and that's what happened again today. We got exposed."

After Langenbrunner kicked the puck towards the goal line on a mad scrum in front of Crawford, McDonald got a blade on the puck before it went in with 23.6 seconds left in the opening period to give the Blues, who outshot the Blackhawks 15-4 in the opening 20 minutes, a 1-0 lead.

Chicago brought some more heat in the second period, but Elliott was up to the challenge on shots he could see and ones with plenty of traffic in front of him.

Crawford kept it a 1-0 game when he stopped Chris Stewart's breakaway attempt with 8:54 remaining. Stewart, who has been in a goal-scoring funk, tried to go five-hole on Crawford but was denied.

"I've been able to be more in control, not sliding around as much, I've been pretty focused," Crawford said. "This team, we have so much skill that I think eventually we're going to score one.

"I think we've come a long way. I think even the last couple games we lost on that streak we were playing good hockey. We've just got to build off these wins, especially this one. That team's been playing so well, they're a tough team to play against, we know now we can play that type of game."

Marian Hossa's empty-netter with 49.1 seconds left sealed Chicago's three-goal third period.

"You've got to be committed to finding a way to win, but you basically have to play the same game, and basically the same approach, and be better at it," Quenneville said. "We did the things that make you a better team, throughout the game, and obviously through that stretch we're trending where we have to be to be a better team, and our team game is improving.

"I still there there's areas where we still need to shore up, but I like the trend. I think that compared to what we were at, (the recent defensive play is) a marked improvement. The details part of our game has been enhanced over the recent stretch."
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