Blackhawks keep Blues focused

BY foxsports • March 7, 2012

After a successful 5-1 road trip, the Blues were actually thankful that the opponent in their first game back home was rival Chicago.
  
Not because they believed it would spell a victory -- hardly. The Blackhawks had won three straight games going into Tuesday night's meeting. Rather Blues coach Ken Hitchcock knew the Hawks would earn his team's attention.
  
"Whether it was them or Detroit, that helps us a lot," Hitchcock said. "I think we play our best hockey when we're a little bit scared. Chicago has given it to us pretty good the last two games."
  
The Blues were certainly focused Tuesday, taking a 3-0 lead in what became a 5-1 victory. Left winger Andy McDonald led the club with two goals.
  
"There's always that question about your first game back (from a road trip) and how that's going to go," McDonald said. "I think that little extra adrenaline . . . we certainly get up playing against them. It was a good atmosphere in the building. There was a lot of motivation tonight, and that helped."
  
Defenseman Alex Pietrangelo assisted on each of McDonald's goals, giving him 30 helpers this season. McDonald has eight goals in 13 games since returning from a concussion.
  
"Just give the puck to (Andy) McDonald right now, and he's going to score," Pietrangelo said. "What an influence he's had since he came back. It's really fun to watch."
  
The Blues will continue their three-game home stand Thursday against Anaheim.

NOTES, QUOTES
Blues are 34-0 when scoring thrice
--With Tuesday's 5-1 victory over Chicago, the Blues are 34-0 when scoring three goals or more this season. Their last regulation loss when netting three-plus goals was March 19, 2011, against San Jose. When asked what he took out of that statistic, Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo quickly replied: "Score three goals."
--The Blues' penalty-killing unit erased five more power plays Tuesday against Chicago and has nullified 32 in succession. The unit hasn't allowed a goal in its last 11-plus games.

"I think it's confidence, but it's mostly pride," Blues right winger T.J. Oshie said. "PKs usually don't get recognized much. We've got guys that are comfortable with each other, playing with each other and taking pride and not letting pucks go in."
  
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I think he's the real unsung hero on the hockey club. I played him against top players. For me, the way he quarterbacks the line, the way he makes players accountable, it's a big bonus for us." -- Blues coach Ken Hitchcock on the play of veteran center Scott Nichol, who assisted on the team's shorthanded goal in Tuesday's 5-1 win over Chicago.

ROSTER REPORT
PLAYER NOTES:
--LW Andy McDonald proved once again that he's one of the fastest players in the NHL. He used his speed to score two goals in Tuesday's 5-1 win over Chicago and now has eight goals in 13 games since returning from a concussion.
  
--G Jaroslav Halak made 19 saves to earn his 22nd victory of the season. The win was also Halak's sixth in a row, tying a career-best stretch. Coach Ken Hitchcock was uncertain who would start for the club Thursday against Anaheim.
  
--LW T.J. Oshie scored his 17th goal of the season in Tuesday's 5-1 win over Chicago. The Blues are 13-0-3 this season when Oshie picks up a goal. He leads the team with 47 points.
  
MEDICAL WATCH:
--D Kent Huskins (hand) has a bruise and is listed as day to day.

--RW Matt D'Agostini (concussion) was placed on the injured-reserve list and is out indefinitely.

--LW Alex Steen (concussion) was placed on the injured-reserve list and is out indefinitely.

--RW Jamie Langenbrunner (foot) will be out until mid-March.

--D Kris Russell (concussion) is out indefinitely.


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