Schwartz hat trick leads Blues past Blackhawks
ST. LOUIS — There were at least three moments during Wednesday night’s game between the St. Louis Blues and Chicago Blackhawks that Jaden Schwartz will enjoy watching on video.
There was one, however, that the Blues forward might prefer to skip.
Schwartz registered the third hat trick of his career to lead the Blues to a 5-2 win over the Blackhawks, but he also was involved in a scary episode when he crashed headfirst into the boards late in the first period.
After a few minutes on the ice, he skated off on his power and was able to return for the start of the second period.
“I don’t know if I will watch it,” Schwartz said. “It didn’t feel good.”
Schwartz scored 4:46 into the game, only the second goal allowed by the Blackhawks in the first period in their seven games this season. He subsequently was stunned on a short-handed breakaway as he was checked by Richard Panik
“My toe pick caught a rivet on the ice,” Schwartz said. “It just happened fast, headfirst into the boards, and I couldn’t get my hands up. A bit of a scary moment, but it could have been worse. I took the 23 to 30 minutes and felt good to come back.”
After getting his first goal on a rebound of a shot by Vladimir Tarasenko, Schwartz scored again 5:59 into the second period. St. Louis caught Chicago with a line change, and Schwartz took a long pass off the boards from goalie Jake Allen and beat Corey Crawford.
He completed his first hat trick since April 3, 2015, on an empty-net goal with 52 seconds to play.
Seeing Schwartz back on the ice put all of his teammates and coaches in a better frame of mind as the second period began.
“It was scary, you don’t like seeing a guy going into the boards like that,” St. Louis center Kyle Brodziak said. “Everybody who has done it knows it’s a pretty helpless feeling when you are sliding in. There’s really no way to protect yourself. You see his head take the brunt of the fall, and it was good to see him get up.
“Between periods, everybody was concerned how he was doing, and we were relieved to see him come back.”
Coach Mike Yeo knows how important Schwartz is for the Blues.
“This is a guy who is hitting his prime, and I think in the last year or so he’s just starting to scratch the surface and realize how good he can be,” Yeo said. “What I like about him, what I like about good players, is they can impact different types of games in different ways.”
Tarasenko followed Schwartz’s second goal with his fifth of the season 1:50 later as the Blues built a 3-0 lead, limiting the Blackhawks toeight shots on goal through the first two periods. Chicago was able to score twice in the closing minutes of the game on power plays by Panik and Ryan Hartman, after Brodziak’s goal had increased the St. Louis lead to 4-0.
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville was not pleased with how his team played in the first two periods.
“It was a bad start,” Quenneville said. “It was a bad middle. It wasn’t very good. ... A little excited at the end, but that wasn’t very good. That was as close to brutal as you can get. They played well, and we were brutal.”
Patrick Kane agreed with his coach.
“Not a good first two periods for us, but obviously it’s early in the season and hopefully we can learn from that (and perform) the way we played in the third the whole game and we should be successful more nights than not,” Kane said. “The biggest thing is just kind of creating momentum; get yourself in the game whether it’s a hit, a shot on net or whatever it is, control the puck a little bit and get some confidence going forward.”
The game could be a confidence-builder for the Blues as a team and for Schwartz in particular, said Allen, who thought the first two periods were the best St. Louis has played this season.
“If he’s going, he brings everyone else into it,” Allen said of Schwartz. “He’s really the guy who gets guys going. He sparks guys. He gets guys the puck. He works his best down below the goal line. Tight turns and sometimes he really doesn’t get enough credit.”
Allen finished with 22 saves and Crawford stopped 28 shots.
NOTES: The Blues activated LW Alexander Steen from injured reserve. He missed the first six games because of a broken left hand. ... Steen took the roster spot of C Wade Megan, who was placed on waivers. ... C Nick Schmaltz was back in the Blackhawks’ lineup after missing four games with a head injury. ... The game was the teams’ only meeting until March 18. ... The Blues will play in Colorado on Thursday. The Blackhawks return home to host the Edmonton Oilers the same night.