Patrick Kane crumpled to the ice after the Blues’ Barret Jackman slammed him face-first into the boards. As the Blackhawks winger took stock of his body parts during the second-period play, Jackman took a shove or two from Kane’s teammates before heading to the penalty box.
What last season likely would have escalated into an all-out brawl merely resulted in a Hawks power play – in which the recovered Kane participated – as the Central Division rivals, for the most part, have focused more on playing hockey than throwing fists in their first two meetings this season.
The Blues won Thursday night’s skill game when T.J. Oshie scored the winner in the shootout to lift the visitors to a 3-2 victory over the Hawks in front of a crowd of 21,169 at the United Center.
David Backes and Alexander Steen had goals in regulation, and Jaroslav Halak earned the victory in goal as the Blues prevailed in their first road game of the season.
Marian Hossa had a goal and an assist, and Brandon Pirri notched his first career goal as the Hawks had their three-game winning streak snapped to drop to 4-1-2. Corey Crawford suffered the loss in goal for the Hawks, whose only defeat in regulation also came from the Blues (5-1-0).
“We did a good job in the first period, but our second and third periods have to be better,” Hawks defenseman Brent Seabrook said. “We’re having tough time finding the back of the net, but we have to muscle these games out and win them 2-0, 2-1, 1-0. That’s the mindset we have to have when we’re not scoring goals.”
Much of the early action was on the Blues’ end, and the Hawks broke through with a score from Pirri, who was playing in his second game of the season. Hossa slid the puck to the left circle, where the rookie wheeled and rifled a shot off the left post and in.
The lead didn’t last long. Less than 3 minutes later, the Blues got the equalizer while on the power play. With Jonathan Toews off for slashing, Backes won the faceoff over Michal Handzus, then positioned himself in front to redirect a long Jay Bouwmeester shot.
In the second, the Hawks regained the lead when Hossa and Patrick Sharp broke in two-on-none on Halak after a nifty backhand pass from defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson. Hossa ripped a shot from the slot that sailed over the goalie’s right pad.
Again, the Blues answered right back. Steen was credited with a goal after Hawks defenseman Duncan Keith inadvertently redirected the puck past Crawford and into his own net.
From there, the goalies stood tall to send the game into overtime and then shootout.
“We’re going to see a lot of [the Blues],” Seabrook said, “fighting with them for spots in our division. We’re going to have to be better against these guys.”
The Blues entered the game with the most average penalty minutes in the NHL, but didn’t draw their first until Jackman’s boarding penalty on Kane.
After playing a rough-and-tumble-type game the last few seasons, St. Louis has mixed in more offensive skill.
“We’re more focused on the ability to maintain possession with the puck and find the right way to do it,” Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said before the game. “Our game is evolving. We tried to work on getting balance, more than anything.”
Star of the game: T.J. Oshie Blues, winning goal in shootout
Key performers: Marian Hossa, Blackhawks, goal, assist; Brandon Pirri, Blackhawks, scored first career goal; Jaroslav Halak, Blues, 27 saves
Up next: Maple Leafs at Blackhawks, 6 p.m. Saturday
TV/Radio: NHL Network/720 AM