CHICAGO – The Chicago Blackhawks helped their coach reach another milestone by putting forth the kind of buttoned-down, hard-nosed effort Joel Quenneville admires.
But it came with quite a price—an injury to leading scorer Patrick Kane that is expected to sideline the star forward for about three weeks.
Corey Crawford stopped 23 shots for his second shutout this season, backstopping the Blackhawks to a physical 4-0 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday night that gave Quenneville his 700th NHL win.
“I’ll take any kind of win, but I certainly liked everything about how we went about tonight’s game,” Quenneville said. “It was a real solid team victory for us, something we’ve been trying to do against these guys all year.”
It was a costly victory, though. Kane left the game at 7:56 of the second period, favouring his left leg as he headed to the dressing room following a collision with Brenden Morrow.
Kane is expected to miss about three weeks with a lower-body injury, Quenneville said.
“He’s a special player,” Quenneville said. “We’ll work our way through this. It’s a huge loss for us.”
Duncan Keith, Andrew Shaw, Marcus Kruger and Ben Smith scored as Chicago ended the league-leading Blues’ nine-game point streak (8-0-1) and dealt St. Louis its first regulation loss against a Central Division opponent this season. The Blues entered 20-0-2 against division foes and hadn’t lost in regulation since a 1-0 defeat at Anaheim on Feb. 28.
Quenneville, who previously guided St. Louis and Colorado, has the most wins of any active NHL coach and ranks third all-time behind Al Arbour and Scotty Bowman, now the Blackhawks’ senior adviser of hockey operations.
Crawford earned his 10th career shutout in Chicago’s first win against the Blues this season after three losses. After St. Louis set the tone early, the Blackhawks regrouped, pushed back and took charge for the remainder of the game.
“Tonight we knew was going to be a tough matchup,” Crawford said. “It was physical—it seems like it’s always physical against these guys. It felt like a playoff atmosphere.”
Kane, who has 29 goals and 40 assists, set up Keith’s opening goal. His loss tempered one of Chicago’s biggest victories this season.
“He brings so many things to the table offensively for us,” Keith said. “When you have a guy like that out with an injury, you have to look at the positives from it.”
St. Louis goalie Ryan Miller lost in regulation for the first time since joining the Blues following a trade from Buffalo on Feb. 28. Miller, now 7-1-1 with St. Louis, was replaced by Brian Elliott at 7:58 of the third period after allowing four goals on 27 shots.
“We let him out to dry,” Blues captain David Backes said. “We could have had three goalies in there on some of them. We just didn’t play well in front of him.”
St. Louis needs one win to clinch a playoff spot for the 38th time in franchise history. But on Wednesday, the Blues got shut down after a solid start.
“The first 10 minutes we were really good,” coach Ken Hitchcock said. “Then they dialed it up and we started reacting and they took it to us. A good wake-up call.”
The win moved Chicago one point ahead of Colorado for second in the Central Division and fourth in the Western Conference.
The Blackhawks have struggled this season against their top rivals in the Central. Chicago entered Wednesday’s game with only one win and five points in eight games against St. Louis and Colorado.
Keith scored the only goal in a physical first period on a power play with 58 seconds left.
The play got tighter and grittier in the second, and Chicago took a 2-0 lead thanks to Shaw’s goal on a deflection with 4:25 left in the period.
Kruger and Smith scored 2:15 apart in the third period to ice it for Chicago.
Notes: Blackhawks C Michal Handzus played in his 1,000th NHL game and was honoured in a pregame ceremony. … St. Louis RW Vladimir Tarasenko underwent surgery for a right hand injury sustained last Saturday at Nashville in the final minute of the game. He will be re-evaluated in six weeks. … Blues RW T.J. Oshie returned to the lineup after missing one game for the birth of his first child. … Chicago LW Brandon Saad sat out his second game with an upper-body injury and is day to day.