The St. Louis Blues are considered to be one of the teams to challenge defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago at the top of the Central Division.
So far, the Blues are living up to the praise.
T.J. Oshie scored the lone goal in the shootout, Jaroslav Halak stopped all three Chicago shooters in the extra session and St. Louis defeated the Blackhawks 3-2 on Thursday night.
David Backes scored a power-play goal for St. Louis, while Alexander Steen was credited with an even-strength score in regulation in the Blues’ first road game.
The Blues are 2-0 against the Blackhawks so far, also having beaten Chicago with two late goals in a game in St. Louis on Oct. 9.
”It’s huge.” Oshie said. ”And tonight, we played a good team game. We have a couple breakdowns, but for the full 65 minutes and the shootout as a team we played pretty solid.
”We’re getting to a stage now that they’re where we want to be. That makes you play a little bit harder when you play against them because of what they’ve accomplished and what we want to accomplish.”
The Blues (5-1-0) started the season with five straight home games, and won the first four before losing 6-2 to San Jose on Tuesday.
They bounced back strong on Thursday.
”There was intensity,” Backes said. ”Mistakes were magnified, just like the playoffs. These are two teams that bring out the best in each other, hard fought, could of gone either way when you get to a shootout.”
Chicago’s Marian Hossa scored on a breakaway and set up Brandon Pirri’s first NHL goal in regulation. All but one of the Blackhawks’ (4-1-2) first seven games have been decided by one goal.
Chicago is struggling to score despite a lineup loaded with offensive stars. The Blackhawks have just 20 goals in their first seven games and only 14 in six games following a season-opening 6-4 win over Washington.
The Blackhawks were second only to Pittsburgh in goal scoring last season, but coach Joel Quenneville didn’t like his team’s effort or output on Thursday.
”I didn’t like our pace,” he said. ”I didn’t like that we were turning pucks over.
”We didn’t get any pucks to the net. We didn’t generate any offense after the first period.
Quenneville said his team needs to find a higher gear.
”We’ve been getting points outside to the one game, so were OK there,” Quenneville said. ”But we don’t have a lot of production. We’ll look at our lines. We need some offense. And I don’t like coaching offensively.”
Chicago’s Corey Crawford made 26 saves and Halak had 27.
Both goalies made a handful of tough stops early before Pirri opened the scoring at 7:42 of the first.
After taking Hossa’s perfect pass, Pirri sent a one-timer from the left circle that ticked off the post and into the upper left corner of the net.
Backes’ power-play goal at 10:14 of the first tied it at 1. He was parked in front of Crawford and deflected in Jay Bouwmeester’s wrist shot from the left point.
The Blues dominated early in the second period. Any momentum was broken when St. Louis’ Barret Jackman hit Chicago star Patrick Kane hard from behind and was sent off for boarding at 7:18.
Hossa put Chicago ahead 2-1 with 2:38 left in the second on a breakaway. After the puck slipped past the Blues’ defense, both Hossa and Patrick Sharp skated in alone, and Hossa fired a shot past Halak on the stick side.
Steen was credited with a goal 51 seconds later that was inadvertently knocked in by Chicago defenseman Duncan Keith and tied it at 2.
Steen was 30 feet out in the slot, and deflected Bouwmeester’s shot from the point. The puck slid to the right side of the crease where Keith was trying to tie up Backes, but Keith swept the puck on goal and past Crawford.
Crawford made a tough close-in save on Alex Pietrangelo with just over seven minutes left to keep it tied.
Halak made an alert save on Brandon Saad 33 seconds into overtime with Jonathan Toews closing in for a rebound. Jackman’s shot hit the post 3:17 into the extra period.
Notes:Pirri, who played in his ninth NHL game, led the AHL with 75 points in 76 games last season while with Rockford. … Backes played his 500th game and Jackman played his 650th. … The Blues have played the Blackhawks 288 times, more than any other team. … St. Louis F Maxim Lapierre, who knocked San Jose D Dan Boyle out a game on Tuesday with a blow to the head, did not dress. Lapierre is scheduled for a hearing with the NHL on Friday. … The Blackhawks had the NHL’s third-best penalty killing last season en route to winning the Stanley Cup, but have allowed six power-play goals in 21 chances so far.