The Chicago Blackhawks did it again.
Just when you thought they might be in for another long night they turned it on, scoring four unanswered goals en route to one of their better victories, 5-2, over the St. Louis Blues on Saturday.
This one came via special teams, cooling off one of the hotter teams in the league. The Hawks scored twice with the man advantage and once while down a man.
“It was a big win for us against any team but especially against this team, the way they like to play us,” Jonathan Toews said afterwards.
The way the Blues like to play is to bang the Hawks around. It took about a period for the visitors to get used to it and then they went to work, down 1-0 and 2-1.
“Tonight we played a solid road game,” Marian Hossa said. “Everybody chipped in. Special teams were the key tonight.”
Hossa broke out of a mini-slump, scoring twice. His shorthanded goal in the second period changed the game while his power play goal in the third was the back-breaker.
“Excellent job in the [penalty kill],” Joel Quenneville said. “I know we’ve had a tough trend [killing penalties]. Back-to-back shorthanded goals in games. A lot of nights that can be the differential. I thought we killed penalties much more efficiently tonight. We don’t want to get too excited its one game.”
The Hawks killed off all four power-play attempts by the Blues while getting Hossa’s shorty as well. It didn’t hurt that St. Louis is dead last in the league on the power play but the Hawks have to start somewhere.
“Sometimes people think confidence only helps you offensively..we know if we work like this we can get some big penalty kills by our team,’ Toews said.
It might be the irony of all ironies. The Hawks are ranked dead last in penalty killing but are first in the league with five shorthanded goals. And now their power play has entered the top 10 in the league.
And this was no squeak-it-out win over the New York Islanders. The Blues have been rolling along under Ken Hitchcock, especially goalie Brian Elliott. Elliott gave up more than two goals for the first time this season, losing for just second time against 10 wins.
Ray emery, meanwhile was solid, rebounding from a forgettable start in Edmonton last month. He made 23 saves on Saturday.
“It was a while ago,” Emery said of the 9-2 drubbing against the Oilers. “It was a tough one but you have to bounce back and not let it turn into two games.”
Emery did just that and might be in line for more playing time. At least Quenneville didn’t dismiss the notion when asked.
“First game back [after Edmonton] on the road in a tough building [against] a hot team,” he responded. “Keeps going. Big win for us.”
The Hawks continue to stumble at times, but then they remind the hockey world they have as good an offense as you’ll find -- and that’s with a trial-by-experiment going on at center on the second line. Take care of the special teams and then take care of the lead. The Hawks did exactly that and won a big game.
• Marian Hossa tallied his 398th and 399th career goals on a shorthanded tally and 4-on-3 score. He had a team-high eight shots on net.
“It’s been a few games I haven’t scored,” Hossa said. “I had a lot of shots tonight. I have to build on this one.”
• Duncan Keith played a team high 23:54 recording two assists while blocking three shots. His 16 assists are tied for fifth most among defensemen.
• Niklas Hjalmarsson recorded his third point of the season and blocked a team-high seven shots.