Chicago, IL, United States (4E Sports) – Jeremy Morin had a goal and assist and Patrick Sharp scored his 33rd goal to carry the depleted Chicago Blackhawks to a 4-2 win over the St. Louis Blues Sunday at United Center.
Marcus Kruger scored early in the third period and Ben Smith scored an empty-net goal with 3.3 seconds left in regulation to seal it for the Blackhawks (45-19-15), who kept pace with the Colorado Avalanche in a race for second place in the Central Division.
Corey Crawford made 21 saves and improved to 31-15-10 with the win, which came without injured captain Jonathan Toews (upper body), right wing Patrick Kane (lower body) and defenseman Johnny Oduya (lower body).
Jaden Schwartz scored less than two minutes into the game and Vladimir Sobotka scored with 2:02 left in regulation for the Blues (52-19-7), whose offensive struggles continued in losses on both ends of a weekend back-to-back against the teams directly behind them in the Central.
Brian Elliott made 31 saves for St. Louis (111 points), which has four games left to surpass the Boston Bruins (113) in the chase for the Presidents’ Trophy.
St. Louis has a comfortable lead in the division but the Blues have scored two or fewer goals in eight of their previous 11 games and had 15 shots midway through the third before rallying to finish with 23.
Schwartz scored the Blues’ first goal 12 seconds later. After a shot by Brenden Morrow was blocked by Sheldon Brookbank, the puck slid out to the left circle for Schwartz. He snapped a hard shot through traffic that beat Crawford for his 24th goal and a quick 1-0 lead.
In the second, Morin tied it 1-1 at 8:34 with his third goal of the season and second in as many games. It was the product of hard work by the Blackhawks’ third line, which has proven instrumental since Toews joined on the sidelines.
Morin also played a key role in Chicago’s first lead, zipping a tape-to-tape pass during a 2-on-1 rush late in the second and Sharp did the rest, ripping a snap shot into the upper left corner of the net at 19:33 for a 2-1 lead.
Kruger got to the blue line alone and shoveled home a rebound of Nordstrom’s shot 56 seconds into the third for a 3-1 lead. Sobotka fired one past Crawford from the left circle with 2:02 left in the game, but that was as close as the Blues would get.