Blackhawks 6, Blues 5

The Chicago Blackhawks needed every one of the six goals they

scored in the first two periods to beat the St. Louis Blues.

Duncan Keith, Ben Eager, Bryan Bickell and Kris Versteeg scored

in a 3:08 span in the first period and the Blackhawks held on to

beat the Blues 6-5 on Wednesday night for their fifth straight

victory.

Andrew Ladd and Jordan Hendry also scored to help Chicago reach

a franchise-record 109 points and tie San Jose for first place in

the Western Conference.

Versteeg added three assists to set a career high for points in

a game and become the first Chicago player to have a four-point

game since Dec. 28, 2008.

After the Blackhawks built a 6-1 lead midway through the second

period, they nearly blew it against the Blues, who got goals from

David Perron, Roman Polak, Brad Winchester, T.J. Oshie and Brad

Boyes. Boyes completed the scoring on a penalty shot with 30.9

seconds left in the third.

“Throughout the first and second periods, we came out strong,”

Versteeg said. “Maybe there was a bit of fatigue, but that’s

definitely not the way we want to finish off.”

“In the first 40 minutes, we were in good shape,” Chicago

coach Joel Quenneville added. “In the third period, we took our

foot off the gas and almost gave it away.”

St. Louis nearly came back despite playing its first game after

being eliminated from playoff contention Tuesday night when

Colorado beat Vancouver.

The Blues also absorbed an emotional hit when forward Keith

Tkachuk announced his retirement before the game. The 38-year-old

Tkachuk played his 1,200th game Monday night, but was scratched

Wednesday night because of a lower-body injury. He will play his

final home game Friday night.

“If anything, he gives us more to play for,” St. Louis forward

David Backes said. “He was a warrior for 19 years in this

league.

“It was almost semi-disrespectful that the night he says he’s

going to retire that we put the sort of effort we did in the first

half of the game.”

Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa left the game after one shift in

the second period because of an unknown injury. Hossa appeared to

have sustained the injury after being hit and knocked to the ice by

Winchester at 8:07 of the first. Hossa played several shifts after

the incident.

After the game, Quenneville said the injury wasn’t serious.

Chicago goalie Antti Niemi made 26 saves in his seventh straight

start and 10th in the last 11 games.

St. Louis starter Chris Mason was replaced by Ty Conklin 7:43

into the first after allowing three goals on four shots. Conklin

gave up three goals on 22 shots.

Perron opened the scoring 4:22 in with 20th goal, scoring on

rebound when he was left open at the edge of the crease.

Then the Blackhawks scored four goals on six shots in just over

3 minutes.

“They skated and we watched,” Backes said. “It was almost

like figure skating at the Olympics. We were the spectators in the

stands and they were skating all over the ice.”

Keith tied it at 1 at 6:17 when he pinched into the left circle

and completed a give-and-go with Versteeg during a 4-on-4.

Just under a minute later, Eager banged in a loose puck from the

crease to make it 2-1. Bickell scored 30 seconds later and sent

Mason to the bench when his screened 45-foot shot from the left

boards sailed over Mason’s glove into the top corner.

Versteeg’s short-handed goal at 9:25 capped the flurry. He

scored from the slot after moving 2-on-none with Patrick Sharp and

taking Sharp’s feed.

Ladd stretched it to 5-1 at 5:54 of the second on wrist shot

from the left circle. Hendry made it 6-1 midway through the second,

before Polak cut it to 6-2 with 4:08 left in the period. Winchester

was credited with a tip-in at 3:43 of the third to make it 6-3, and

Oshie trimmed it to 6-4 with 6:16 remaining.

Boyes closed it to 6-5 on his penalty shot, awarded after he was

hacked by Chicago’s Dustin Byfuglien on a breakaway.

NOTES: Hossa has 24 goals and 26 assists in 50 games this

season. He missed the Blackhawks’ first 22 games following

offseason shoulder surgery. … The Blackhawks recalled Bickell

from Rockford of the AHL on Wednesday. … Chicago RW Tomas Kopecky

sat out with an upper-body injury, as did D Kim Johnsson who missed

his 13th game. RW missed Troy Brouwer missed his second straight

game due to personal reasons. St. Louis D Barret Jackman and C

Patrik Berglund sat out with upper-body injuries.