Going into the matchup between the Chicago Blackhawks and the St. Louis Blues on Sunday night, it was very clear that the game would be a test for the Blackhawks and their No. 1 ranking in the Western Conference of the NHL.
Once the two teams took to the ice, the battle started. Chicago took an early two-goal lead, which it gave up. Then, it recovered the gap to get another two-goal lead, which was once again given up. The game lead to a six-round shootout, which was claimed by St. Louis.
When you are able to get a two-goal lead, and then later reclaim that lead, it makes you think that the team is in good shape to pull out a win. But, as stated before, the Blues are not a team to be underestimated. They fight to the very end of the match, and once they find their momentum, can turn out goals to even up the score.
The Blackhawks did not lose this game when Kevin Shattenkirk found the back of Antti Raanta’s net to win the shootout. They lost the game when they relinquished a second two-goal lead during regular game play.
This matchup was an important and humbling lesson for the Hawks. It had all the elements of a loss, and that much was palpable in the responses of the players and, of course, coach Joel Quenneville. According to ESPN, Coach Q described the previous games against the Blues as “tight, competitive and exciting.” He went on to say, “They’re a good hockey team, we have a good hockey team over here. That’s what we’re faced with. I expect to be in a race the whole time.”
Quenneville is right. These are two teams who will continue to test one another. The Blues will continue to show the Hawks that they must be on their guard throughout the entirety of the game. It is still great that Chicago can find the back of the net to tie up the game after handing over two leads, but the extra point that comes from a win can be important later on in the season.