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Blackhawks Thu Oct 10 2013

Blackhawks Let Point Slip Away In "New Rivalry"

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png With all the "new rivalry" talk leading into last night's game in St. Louis between the Blackhawks and Blues, one would think think these two teams just started playing each other. Playing the Detroit Red Wings in the same division for a stretch has that effect on people. But in fact these two teams have played with about as much vitriol for one-another over the years that penning it as "new" is like saying Jonathan Toews is good at hockey.

Nevertheless, these two teams will be the measuring stick all season in the division. And after all the hype coming into the third game on the schedule, the Blackhawks took to the road for the first time, hoping to make good off a lost opportunity at home last Saturday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning -- a game which they lost 3-2 in a shootout.

After only two games played thus far, it's hard to get an idea of what to expect when the temperatures consistently hit below 50 degrees. However, if it's one thing that has plagued the Blackhawks so far, it's the penalty kill -- and not the power play.

During last year's lockout-shortened season, the Blackhawks were 19th on the power play at 16.7 percent and third in penalty killing at 87.2 percent. After two games this year, the Blackhawks are sixth on the power play at 36.4 percent and, oof, dead last in penalty killing at a meager 44.4 percent. For sure something to work on with coach Joel Quenneville and crew, and surely something that will be fixed before too long -- one hopes.

After not playing for the past four nights, the Blackhawks were welcomed into the Scottrade Center to any Blues fans who weren't up the street at Busch Stadium for Game 5. And as soon as the puck dropped, the intensity level picked up. It didn't take long before Sheldon Brookbank and Chris Stewart dropped the gloves and David Backes was needling at Toews.

There's no doubt the intensity level was high on the Blues end, considering it was a division matchup and the Blackhawks are going to be targeted all season as defending champs. However, that level of intensity was matched by the Blackhawks by answering each of the first two goals by the Blues with two of their own.

Vladimir Tarasenko got the party started with a wrister on Corey Crawford -- Patrick Kane answers with one of his own, 1 minute, 17 seconds later. Backes gives the Blues the lead in the second period with a tip-in -- the Captain comes right back with a wrist shot past Jaroslav Halak to tie it back up 39 seconds later.

The Blues seemed to have all the momentum on their end after each lead was taken, but quickly was equalized by a much quicker and deeper Blackhawks team. Then, with just 22 seconds left in regulation, a time which had everyone thinking about a one-point escape on the road, Alexander Steen blasted a slapper past Crawford for a 3-2 final.

"Not a lot of mistakes; we played a good game," a disappointed Quenneville said after the regulation loss. "But you can't make a mistake like that [at the end of the game]. We played well last game, too, and got nothing at the end of the day."

The coach was right. The Blackhawks were caught napping for a brief second at the end in their own zone and the Blues made them pay. Toews tried to send a pass in front of Halak, it was intercepted by Alex Pietrangelo who blew past Brent Seabrook and passed it up to Steen for the winner. Again, it only was the third game of the season, but there was one point to be had, at minimum.

These two teams will play each other four more times in the regular season, including back at the United Center next Thursday evening. And while it might seem like this is a "new" rivalry to some, it's merely a renewed sense of recognition to re-stoke the fire to a newer fan base. You can bet these two teams will meet up at some time in late-April/mid-May and each game likely will go the way of Wednesday night's game: back and forth and down to the wire.

 
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