CHICAGO – Dave Bolland got an unlikely assist and the Chicago Blackhawks won in their return to the United Center after a long road trip.
Bolland’s centring attempt in the third hit the stick of St. Louis’ leading scorer David Backes and went in the net for the go-ahead score Sunday as Chicago rallied with three final-period goals for a 3-1 victory over the Blues.
“I saw Kaner (Patrick Kane) just to my left and tried to get it to him and it went off Backes,” Bolland said. “I’ll take it. Those are the kind of goals we need. We can’t wait for pretty ones.”
Chicago couldn’t solve St. Louis goalie Brian Elliott for the first two periods as he was working on his second straight shutout. But Duncan Keith scored a tying goal on a one-timer and then Bolland—or Backes—put the Blackhawks ahead. Marian Hossa added an empty-netter with 49 seconds left.
The Blackhawks, coming off a nine-game road trip in which they won only two games, captured their third straight victory. The modest streak comes on the heels of a nine-game losing skid. Corey Crawford made 29 saves in Chicago’s first home game since Jan. 24
Andy McDonald scored in the first for the Blues and it looked as if Elliott would make it hold up. He entered the game leading the NHL with a 1.55 goals-against average.
Bolland took a pass from Keith at the left side of the net and directed the puck toward the goal. It hit Backes’ stick and went in at 13:03 of the period to make it 2-1, sending the crowd into a frenzy.
“Tough luck but we should have had it out of the zone before that,” Backes said. “You don’t make plays to get it and I put one in the back of our net. … We let them hang around, hang around. I’d like to have that back. Ells played fantastic in nets and he deserves better.”
Keith earlier took a pass from Patrick Sharp and sent a screaming one-timer from the slot past Elliott, tying the game at 4:52 of the final period.
“I didn’t even see him. There were bodies there and sometimes those just squeak through the crowd,” said Elliott, who finished with 24 saves.
And on Bolland’s goal, he had no problem with where Backes was positioned.
“It’s probably where he should be, just taking away the pass across and just a bad bounce,” Elliott added.
Shortly after Keith’s tying goal in the third, two Blackhawks crashed into Crawford as he was stopping a shot by McDonald and the collision dislodged the net before the puck crossed the line. Another video review followed and the call on the ice of no goal was upheld.
During a scrum in front of the Chicago goal with 24 seconds left in the first period, the Blues’ Jamie Langenbrunner kicked the puck toward the goal and McDonald nudged it in past Crawford, a score upheld by video review.
St. Louis has allowed the fewest goals in the league, tied with the Rangers at 114 entering the game. And the Blues made it tough for Chicago to generate any offence, outshooting the Blackhawks 15-4 in that first period.
“They’re always thinking defence. It’s not a wide-open game,” Keith said. “We stuck with it. We learned a lot in that losing streak and brought those lessons to this game. We were able to play a patient game and win it.”
McDonald, who missed 51 games this season with a concussion, scored for the third time since his return a week ago. He nearly converted earlier in the first with the Blues short-handed.
NOTES: Chicago is 2-1 against the Blues this season and the teams meet three more times. … St. Louis G Jaroslav Halak, who’d been slowed by flu-like symptoms, was scratched from the lineup for a second straight game. …. Blackhawks D Niklas Hjalmarsson missed his sixth straight game with an upper body injury. He skated Sunday and will be re-evaluated for Tuesday night’s game against the Red Wings, coach Joel Quenneville said.