If not for a last-minute goal by the St. Louis Blues, the Chicago Blackhawks might be working on another season-opening streak without a regulation loss.
The Blackhawks will seek to avenge last week's bitter defeat to the Blues as the Central Division teams meet again Thursday night in Chicago.
The Blackhawks shattered an NHL record by going 24 games without losing in regulation to open last season en route to winning the Stanley Cup, but their streak ended at just two games this season with a 3-2 defeat in St. Louis last Wednesday.
Chicago appeared poised to earn at least one point from that game until Alexander Steen's slap shot slipped past Corey Crawford with 21.1 seconds remaining on a 3-on-1 rush.
"You've got to get that game to overtime," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "You take one (point) maybe two. You don't get none. That's unacceptable. ... There was not a lot of mistakes. We played a good game. But you can't make a mistake like that."
The Blackhawks (4-1-1) have since won three in a row and earned a 3-2 shootout victory in Carolina on Tuesday. Two days after his second child was born, Patrick Sharp tallied his 200th career goal in the first period and was the only player to score in the shootout.
"The team got the win and we're moving forward to a big game on Thursday," Sharp said.
Sharp helped Chicago come away with two points after it blew a two-goal lead in the third period. The last five games for the Blackhawks have been decided by one goal.
"We're not complaining. We could have had points in every game. If we didn't have that game in St. Louis, we'd probably be pretty happy," Quenneville said.
Chicago's past four home matchups with the Blues also have all been one-goal games, including three shootouts. The Blackhawks had won eight straight against St. Louis at the United Center before being handed a 4-3 shootout loss in the most recent one April 4.
The Blues (4-1-0) had a chance to head into Chicago with a season-opening win streak of its own but suffered its first loss Tuesday, 6-2 to San Jose. They also might have a distraction with Maxim Lapierre likely facing a lengthy suspension after driving Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle into the boards from behind.
Boyle was taken away on a stretcher, and Lapierre was given a game misconduct during a penalty-filled opening period. The NHL offered the Blues forward the chance for an in-person hearing, signaling the possibility of a penalty of at least six games.
"When you don't hold your competitive discipline and composure, things can unravel," coach Ken Hitchcock said after his team gave up three power-play goals. "They came in and played the right way. We didn't, and we paid for it."
David Backes went without a point after scoring four goals in the first four games. The St. Louis captain has two goals and two assists in the last four meetings with Chicago as the Blues have gone 3-1-0.
Chicago captain Jonathan Toews has nine goals and seven assists in his last 12 games against St. Louis, including one of each last week.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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