Blackhawks look to continue building confidence vs. Blues

NHL Hockey

For the Chicago Blackhawks, it’s all about perspective.

They return home Friday to face the St. Louis Blues after going 2-2-0 on a four-game trip.

Considering they were 0-5-1 in away games before this trip, they’ll take it.

“You get .500 on the road, coming in to where we started from, they’ve made strides,” said Blackhawks interim coach Derek King, who is 5-2-0 since taking over after Jeremy Colliton was fired following a 1-9-2 start to the season. “Is there some more work to be done? Sure is. We are making good strides and we are in the right direction.”

Not even a tough 5-2 loss in Calgary to complete the trip could dim the Blackhawks’ view.

The Flames broke a tie with 5:35 remaining when Matthew Tkachuk’s centering pass went off the skate of Chicago defenseman Seth Jones, over the shoulder of goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury and into the net. Calgary added two empty-net goals to close out the victory.

“The consistency of playing a certain way is not there yet, but it’s getting there,” King said. “I know these guys, going in there after the game they were disappointed. As the season has gone so far, that’s a positive that they are upset about it.”

Added captain Jonathan Toews: “Either way, we played some good hockey. We want to win all four, so 2-2 or 3-1 … I think there’s some hockey we can build off of going home here.”

Fleury made 34 saves and Brandon Hagel and Reese Johnson scored for the Blackhawks. It was Johnson’s first NHL goal.

“It’s obviously nice to contribute,” Johnson said. “I think I want to be able to do that more, get some greasy ones in front of the net, but obviously we want to come out of that with two points.”

The Blues are coming off a 4-2 loss Wednesday at Detroit as Red Wings goalie Alex Nedeljkovic made 35 saves.

“We made the plays — we could have easily had five or six goals, but you just have to take your hat off to (Nedeljkovic),” Blues coach Craig Berube said. “You have games like this, where you throw everything at the net and nothing goes in.”

Pavel Buchnevich and David Perron scored for St. Louis, which has lost six of its past eight games (2-5-1).

“I thought we played a really good game,” Blues captain Ryan O’Reilly said. “We just didn’t get the results we wanted.”

The Blues’ James Neal was held out with an undisclosed injury but fellow forward Brayden Schenn returned after missing nine games with an upper-body injury.

Schenn was a minus-2 in just more than 15 minutes of playing time.

“He was OK,” Berube said. “He wasn’t going to be 100 percent after missing that much time, but he’ll be fine.”

The Blues could certainly use a little puck luck.

“We played a really solid game, but we needed to finish some of our chances,” forward Jordan Kyrou said. “We were all over them in the offensive zone, but we needed a couple bounces and (Nedeljkovic) played a great game.”

–Field Level Media

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