(MCT) — CHICAGO — In Brian Elliott’s worst nightmare he probably sees three Blackhawks breaking in alone on him with nary a defenseman in sight.
Unfortunately for the Blues goaltender, he was wide awake when the line of Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp and Dave Bolland got behind pinching blueliners during the first period of Tuesday night’s game at the United Center.
A give-and-go between Kane and Sharp resulted in the Hawks’ first goal and they carried the momentum to a 3-2 victory over the Blues before a crowd of 21,455 on hand for the home opener.
The victory kept the Hawks unbeaten in three games this season and gave themselves — and the Blues — a good measuring stick for how the Central Division rivals stack up this season.
In addition to Kane’s highlight-reel goal, Brent Seabrook and Viktor Stalberg also scored and Corey Crawford was solid in goal as the Hawks handed the Blues — playing the second of back-to-back games — their first loss of the season in three games.
Crawford entered the third period with a shutout but Andy McDonald scored 4 minutes, 40 seconds in and T.J. Oshie narrowed the gap to one at the 14:53 mark. The Hawks did not record a shutout all last season and haven’t had one since Crawford pulled off the feat March 23, 2011 against the Panthers.
Elliott was good early when the Hawks controlled the pace and had four odd-man rushes in the opening period alone against a gambling Blues defense. The goalie twice denied Patrick Sharp on terrific chances.
The Hawks finally broke through in the first on the three-on-none rush that ended with Kane taking a return pass from Sharp and sliding a backhander into a gaping net.
At the other end, Crawford was sharp and made a sparkling stop of Blues rookie sensation Vladimir Tarasenko, who entered Tuesday’s contest with three goals and two assists in his first two career games. Tarasenko pounced on a rebound to the right of Crawford and sent a shot toward the net that the lunging goalie batted away.
Midway through the second, the Hawks converted while on the power play to make it 2-0. With Blues defenseman Ian Cole in the box for interference, Jonathan Toews found Duncan Keith cruising into the attack zone and fed him the puck. Keith’s slap shot hit the skate of Seabrook en route for the goal that slid through Elliott’s pads.
Early in the third, Stalberg gave the Hawks a two-goal cushion when he ripped a shot from the right circle that got by Elliott to the glove side.
Much has been made of how the lengthy NHL lockout would affect play after only a week of training camp.
“The pace is fast,” Sharp said. “There are still some mistakes being made league-wide and that includes us. Things tighten up as the season goes along so it’s important to get as many points as you can right now.”