Half a period of sleepy hockey went by Wednesday night before all hell broke loose at the United Center.
A big hit from the Blues’ David Backes on Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane midway through the first period of Wednesday night’s Central Division showdown re-ignited a sizzling rivalry and nary a whistle blew that wasn’t followed by pushing and shoving.
When the dust settled, the Hawks had won 4-0 at the United Center to pull within six points of the Blues in the Central.
The rough-and-tumble affair that featured several big hits from both sides may have cost the Hawks the services of Kane for a few weeks as the winger was injured in the second period and did not return. One source said the injury wasn’t serious and NBCSN reported Kane would be sidelined a minimum of two weeks.
It was a clean play that caused Kane’s injury as Blues veteran Brendan Morrow fell on the winger’s left leg after Hawks forward Peter Regin checked him.
Duncan Keith, Andrew Shaw, Marcus Kruger and Ben Smith scored for the Hawks and goaltender Corey Crawford made 23 saves in recording his second shutout of the season and 10th of his career.
It was the first time in four meetings this season that the Hawks solved the Blues and the first game decided by more than one goal. It also marked the first time in 23 games this season that the NHL-leading Blues fell in regulation to a team within the division. And the Blues were denied a chance to be the first team in the league to secure a postseason berth.
Ryan Miller allowed all four scores and was replaced by Brian Elliott in the third as the Blues had a nine-game points streak snapped and fell for the first time in regulation since March 2.
Quenneville recorded his 700th career victory, trailing only Scotty Bowman (1,244) and Al Arbour (782) in NHL history.
The Hawks (40-15-15) moved into sole possession of second place in the Central after the Avalanche fell to the Jets 5-4 in overtime. The defending Stanley Cup champions have 12 games remaining to try to catch the Blues, who stand at 47-14-7.