The Blackhawks got another chance to play spoiler versus the St. Louis Blues last night at the UC, in what appeared to be the final home game of 3-time Stanley Cup winner Patrick Sharp’s career.
Opting to dress 7 defensemen due to injuries/illness at forward, the Hawks’ lines and pairings were:
JF Berube was in net Wednesday night in St. Louis for a Hawk win, so clearly he deserved to keep the night for one more night—or at least the start of it. Former Hawk backup Carter Hutton replaced the goat of Wednesday night’s game, Jake Allen, in net for St. Louis.
The two teams played evenly though much of the first period. It wasn’t until 1:43 of the first when Blues’ forward Patrick Bergund deflected a Joel Edmondson point shot past Berube, making it 1-0 St. Louis. The period would end at that score, with the Blues leading in shots 10-5.
It was a quick and scoreless second stanza, with the shots favoring St. Louis 9-7, making the totals for the game 21-12 Blues.
The Hawks looked to be jumping back into the game at 11:52, when Patrick Kane found a pinching Erik Gustafsson on a nifty cross-ice pass that Gustafsson blew past Hutton stick side. 1-1.
But then the wheels came off. 16 seconds later, Berglund got his second goal off a rebound with a St. Louis forward parked right on top of Berube. 2-1, Blues.
At 7:20, an unmolested Jaden Schwartz blasted a shot from the slot, beating Berube, after Keith made an inexplicably soft, bad attempt to work a puck along the end board to Seabrook, which was swallowed up by a St. Louis forward and kicked out to Schwartz. Berube, meanwhile, became mesmerized by what was going on behind him, and failed to get adequately set when the puck went to Schwartz. 3-1 Blues.
The Hawks were put out of their misery by Berglund’s third goal of the night, an empty netter at 1:11.
He didn’t do much in the game, or even really this season, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t offer—on behalf of The-Rink.com—a full-throated salute to Sharp. He was an integral player on several great Hawk teams and filled nets around the NHL with a lot of big goals while wearing the Indianhead. Thank you, Sharpie.
Secondarily, the Blues came, played hard and physical, and behind a (mostly) steady hand in Hutton, took care of business in a must-win road game.
Gustafsson had the lone Hawk goal. Gustafsson is great as far as knowing when and how to pinch and he has a good shot.
Keith was -4 in this game, Seabrook -2, Artem Anisimov -3. The Hawks were outshot 35-20. The Hawks remain absolutely terrible in their end, which was compounded tonight by their best defenseman, Keith, having a lousy outing.
The much-celebrated Gustafsson is awful at actual ‘defense.’ Period. For next season, the Hawks need defensemen who can actually defend. At least a couple of them that they don’t have now.
You really got the sense in this game, especially the third period, that the Hawks are thinking more about their new sets of gold clubs and summer conditioning programs than they are winning hockey games. It’s not surprising. Sort of disappointing to watch, however. This painful, miserable and puzzling season ends tonight in Winnipeg. We’ll have a preview and a recap.
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