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Nikolai Khabibulin just misses shutout in Hawks' 3-1 win over the Blues

CHICAGO - After being badly outplayed and shut down in back-to-back losses, the Chicago Blackhawks turned the tables.

Nikolai Khabibulin made 16 saves, and Jonathan Toews, Samuel Pahlsson and Colin Fraser scored for the Blackhawks, who beat St. Louis 3-1 on Wednesday night and snapped the Blues' five-game winning streak.

The Blackhawks were in control throughout and moved within one point of clinching their first playoff berth since 2001-02.

Chicago also jumped one point ahead of Calgary and into fourth place in the Western Conference.

Khabibulin lost a bid for his second shutout when St. Louis' Jeff Woywitka scored a power-play goal with 1.5 seconds remaining.

The Blackhawks, who lost 4-0 to Vancouver and 4-1 to Montreal in their previous two games, dominated and limited the Blues to their second-lowest shot output this season.

"St. Louis has checked hard against us all year," Toews said. "We went out there and took it to them

"That we dictated most of the game was good. We kept them away from our net and made our goaltender's job just a little bit easier, for once."

Chicago finished 2-2-2 against St. Louis this season and will play Friday at home against Nashville. If the Blues don't win at Detroit on Thursday, the Blackhawks will lock up a postseason spot.

"I wasn't aware of that," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. "We want to get fourth in the conference. That's the motivation for us.

"We had a good effort. A good start. We checked well, had support around the puck. We had the puck a lot and won some battles."

Chicago forward Martin Havlat assisted on Toews' goal to give him a career-high 69 points. Havlat was chosen as the Blackhawks' Masterton Trophy nominee following the game.

St. Louis remained in ninth place in the Western Conference, one point behind Anaheim and Nashville at the playoff cutoff.

The Blues were last in the Western Conference on Feb. 18, but have gone 13-5-2 since then to climb back into playoff contention. They took a detour on Wednesday.

"Give the Hawks credit. They outplayed us in every aspect of the game and outworked us," Blues coach Andy Murray said. "There are no reasons. It needs to be different and it has been different.

"We were not ourselves, and we need to get it back."

St. Louis' Chris Mason stopped 27 shots in his 28th straight start. He made several tough, point-blank saves to keep the game close.

"It's not too often I can say we got outworked," Mason said. "Tonight we got outworked, we got outplayed. It was one of our worst games, I think, in a long time."

Chicago outshot St. Louis 11-3 in the first period, and jumped ahead 2-0 after 20 minutes on goals by Toews and Pahlsson.

Toews opened the scoring with 8:15 left in the first when he drove across the slot from the right circle and fired in a low shot.

Pahlsson, acquired from Anaheim on March 4, scored his first goal with the Blackhawks just over four minutes later to make it 2-0.

Mason kept the Blues in the game through the scoreless second. Among the 10 shots he turned aside were a point-blank backhander by Patrick Sharp in the opening minute and Patrick Kane's stuff from the edge of the crease with 4:30 left.

Although the Blackhawks limited the Blues to four shots in the second, Khabibulin stopped Keith Tkachuk on a breakaway with four minutes left.

Fraser scored on a short-handed breakaway with 4:31 remaining in the third to make it 3-0. Woywitka scored from a scrum following a faceoff to get the Blues on the board.

Notes: Chicago D Matt Walker returned after missing five games with an upper-body injury. ... Chicago RW Troy Brouwer missed his second game due to a knee injury. ... Blackhawks C Dave Bolland sat out his first game due to an undisclosed lower-body injury, sustained Tuesday in a 4-1 loss at Montreal. ... St. Louis RW Cam Janssen and D Tyson Strachan were healthy scratches. ... The Blackhawks honoured Hall-of-Fame goalie Glenn Hall in a pregame ceremony. Hall was unable to attend, however, due to family obligations.


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