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Blues keep Blackhawks in a funk

Andrew Brunette (15) battles Blues defenseman Roman Polak for puck. | Dilip Vishwanat~Getty Images

Andrew Brunette (15) battles Blues defenseman Roman Polak for the puck. | Dilip Vishwanat~Getty Images

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Updated: December 10, 2011 10:02AM



ST. LOUIS — So much for that riveting response after a humiliating loss for the Blackhawks. Instead, it was a lot of the same.

The Hawks’ power play and penalty kill faltered again. The big crowd-wooing hits belonged to their opponent again. And they seemed out of sorts when under pressure — again.

There was little for the Hawks to feel good about in their 3-0 loss Tuesday against the St. Louis Blues at the Scottrade Center. They had another bad start and just a bad game overall after getting blown out by the Vancouver Canucks a game earlier.

Jonathan Toews questioned the Hawks’ compete level afterward. And coach Joel Quenneville agreed, simply calling it “not good.” All the line and defensive changes Quenneville made after the loss to the Canucks resulted in little momentum or offensive-zone time in St. Louis.

“We have to get a little frustrated, a little [ticked] off and get some emotion,” Toews said. “I think when everyone is working, that’s when bounces start going your way. It’s not happening right now.”

Jaroslav Halak stopped 29 shots for the shutout victory as the Blues converted on their first power-play opportunity and killed off four consecutive penalties. Vladimir Sobotka, Chris Stewart (power play) and T.J. Oshie scored.

The Blues came in with the 27th-ranked penalty kill but still held the Hawks off the scoresheet. Garbage goals are still absent for the Hawks, who had two new power-play units. The Hawks now have the worst power play in the NHL with an 8.8 percent success rate.

“We want to win games, we want to be good on the power play [and] we want to be good five-on-five and the penalty kill,” Toews said. “If you work on all those things over the course of your game, it all adds to you having a good team game. Right now, who cares about the [power-play] stat? We know we’ve got to be better. We’ve got to keep working on it.”

You could argue that the Blues may have been a more motivated team with coach Ken Hitchcock running their bench for the first time since the firing of Davis Payne. But the Hawks were expecting that. Plus, shouldn’t the Hawks have had an edge to their game after what the Canucks did to them?

“I wasn’t happy with our game,” Quenneville said. “The first period, there was not a lot happening there — no pace. We didn’t generate. We couldn’t make a pass. . . . The power play [and] five-on-five, our puck movement was terrible.”

The Hawks barely put any pressure on Halak. They didn’t get any breaks, either. Dave Bolland should’ve had a power-play goal in the second period, but the play was whistled dead with Halak appearing to have control. Replays showed he didn’t.

Still, the Hawks have to earn those breaks. The Blues got physical, and it paid off. Patrick Kane and Toews were sent sprawling to the ice from hard checks. Similar ones occurred in the loss to the Canucks.

“We need to compete to win games,” said defenseman Duncan Keith, who returned after missing three games. “We can’t expect to go out there, lace on the equipment and expect to win. We can’t blame it on the power play and our special teams every game.”



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