The Blackhawks realize it's early November and the postseason is months away, but they also know the eight-game stretch against Central Division opponents they began Saturday night is important.
The Hawks couldn't have started it any better as they defeated the Blues 3-2 on the strength of two third-period short-handed goals by Patrick Sharp before a crowd of 19,150 at the Scottrade Center.
"We've heard the phrase 'building a culture of winning' for a long time now in this locker room," Sharp said. "We really feel like we can win any game against any team, and [Saturday night] we proved that to ourselves. Our division, we have a lot of tough of games against it coming up, and this is a great way to start it off."
Sharp's second short-hander came with 2 minutes 21 seconds remaining and with Robert Lang in the penalty box. Sharp picked up a loose puck in the slot and sent a wrist shot past Blues goaltender Manny Legace.
The Hawks took a 1-0 lead 4 minutes 45 seconds into the game on Dustin Byfuglien's slap shot from the top of the left circle past Legace.With Hawks rookie Patrick Kane off for holding, Sharp grabbed the puck, skated in alone on Legace and put in a backhander for his fourth goal of the season. The last Blackhawk to have two short-handed goals in one game was Steve Sullivan at Colorado on Jan. 26, 2001.
"That's the first time that ever has happened to me," Sharp said. "We keep saying we're trying to be aggressive short-handed. We have forwards who can skate in here, and we want to have short shifts and keep fresh legs. Both those goals were the result of some speed up ice and aggressiveness."
The Hawks recalled Byfuglien from the American Hockey League on Saturday to help provide some offense with his booming slap shot. The move paid dividends when he blasted a shot past Legace from the top of the left faceoff circle to give the Hawks a 1-0 lead.
"That's the kind of game I like to play, and as I get a little more comfortable up here, we should be all right," said Byfuglien, who missed much of training camp with a pulled muscle in his side and didn't made the club out of camp.
St. Louis tied it 1-1 with 4:16 remaining in the first period when rookie David Perron scored his first career goal.
Perron was knocked down in the crease, and the puck went off his skate and past Hawks goalie Nikolai Khabibulin.
Before Sharp's game-winner, the Blues had tied it 2-2 with 5:20 remaining in the third when Paul Kariya scored on a shot that went off Hawks defenseman Jim Vandermeer's stick and into the net.
"When you face eight divisional games in a row, you want to start off on the right foot," Hawks coach Denis Savard said. "I like the way we played. We played a smart game and got a good solid road win."Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times