Blues top Blackhawks 4-1 in NHL Winter Classic

© Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports
Blues top Blackhawks 4-1 in Busch Stadium Winter Classic

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Vladimir Tarasenko looked quite comfortable at Busch Stadium. It turns out his wicked wrist shot works outside, too.

Tarasenko scored two goals in the third period, Jake Allen stopped 22 shots and the St. Louis Blues beat the Chicago Blackhawks 4-1 in the Winter Classic on Monday at the longtime home of baseball's St. Louis Cardinals.


Tarasenko is "a hungry offensive player. He sniffs out coverage issues and he jumps on it," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "When he's engaged like he was today and like he's been for the most part this year, he's dangerous. He's always one shift away from breaking the thing wide open."

As usual, Tarasenko deflected the attention away from himself.

"It's not about my goals. We have a great team and a great goalie," he said. "It was a great win for us and everyone played their best."

It was 46 degrees when play began before a sellout crowd of 46,556, the sixth largest for a Winter Classic. It was the 21st regular-season outdoor NHL game.

Bobby Hull and son Brett dropped the ceremonial first puck. Bobby wore a Blackhawks jersey and Brett wore the Blues sweater.

The Blues went ahead 2-1 when Tarasenko made a backhand pass that hit the skate of Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson and slipped by Corey Crawford at 12:05 of the third.

"That's one of those few guys in the league that has a shot that's more than above average and he doesn't have to wind up to get a big shot away," Hjalmarsson said. "So he can shoot it from anywhere and that's what makes him so dangerous."

Tarasenko then scored on a wrist shot over Crawford's shoulder at 13:58, giving him 18 goals this season. Robbi Fabbri assisted on both goals.

"It's no secret. He's got probably one of the best wristers in the league and everyone knows when he's out there," Crawford said. "Everyone knows what he can do."

The Blues added an empty-net goal by Alexander Steen at 18:46 to seal the victory.

"I thought we played a great game," Hitchcock said. "I thought we played a smart, sound hockey game and quite frankly, deserved to win."

St. Louis tied it at 1 at 7:45 of the second period. From behind the net, Jay Bouwmeester fed Patrick Berglund in the slot. Berglund one-timed the pass for his sixth goal this season. Steen got the second assist on the goal, the 300th of his career.

The Blackhawks scored 62 seconds into the game. Michal Kempny hit a slap shot from just inside the blue line that bounced and wobbled and went off the top of Allen's glove. Kempny got the puck on a pass from behind the net by Artemi Panarin.

It was Kempny's second goal of the season. He did not score in his first 24 games. Now he has scored in his last two games.

Crawford, who faced 34 shots, made his best save when he denied Tarasenko on a breakaway three minutes into the third period.

NOTES: St. Louis improved to 2-1-1 this season against Chicago. ... The slumping Blackhawks have lost five of their last six games. ... The Blues are the 11th team to play in the annual Winter Classic. The Blackhawks are 0-3-0 in the Winter Classic after previous appearances in 2009 and 2015. ... The Winter Classic at Busch Stadium was the fifth outdoor game for the Blackhawks since 2009. Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook each played in the previous four, and Crawford started the last three in goal. ... Before Monday, the only Blues players to have played in an outdoor game were defensemen Carl Gunnarsson and Bouwmeester. ... Chicago RW Marian Hossa is on the injured list with an upper-body injury and was not activated. ... Chicago C Marcus Kruger has been placed on the injured list. ... Blues RW Nail Yakupov was out because of illness.

Best and Worst of 2017 NHL Winter Classic merchandise (Photos)

ST. LOUIS – The NHL brought its traveling cavalcade of fun to St. Louis this week for the 2017 Winter Classic, featuring the Blues vs. the Chicago Blackhawks. And with the Winter Classic comes a mountain of Winter Classic hats, shirts, jackets and adults pajamas!

The NHL is coming off the 2016 Winter Classic in Foxborough, which generated the highest two-day sale period in the event’s history. The expectation is that given the interest here in St. Louis, and the retail space they have, that number could be challenged by the 2017 event.

Here are the Best and Worst of the 2017 NHL Winter Classic swag, mostly featuring the best, because most of it is darn cool.

What separates Winter Classic swag from pedestrian NHL swag is the experience attached to it. And what can separate your Winter Classic swag from everyone else’s is a reminder that it was a personal experience.

One of the leaps forward this year at the game is customization. There’s a shop near Section 105 of the ballpark that has two machines: One that can stitch text onto hats and shirts, and one that can laser etch a message onto commemorative sticks and pucks.

So you can have, like, your family’s names put on a special piece of memorabilia. Or “BLACKHAWKS SUCK,” if you slip the person working the machine $20. Just kidding. Maybe.

Just the sight of this thing should make any parent shudder, as they slowly move their hands to their wallets to make sure it hasn’t already been stolen by these fuzzy little money vacuums.

Build-A-Bear is a product from St. Louis, so they have a large trailer at Busch Stadium. The NHL is already a partner, but for the Winter Classic they developed special outfits that your children will summarily reject because they want to dress their bear like Kylo Ren.

One of these things will cost you $45, which must be why this thing is sneering at your like Seth MacFarlane after a dirty joke.

2017 NHL Winter classic: Weather forecast, scenarios if rain delays the Blues, Blackhawks game

Mother Nature has spared the 2017 NHL Winter Classic ... for now.

That “for now” is key.

Last week, it became apparent that weather in St. Louis could force some less-than-ideal delays at Busch Stadium for the St. Louis Blues and Chicago Blackhawks.

As of Monday morning, the NHL has decided the game will start on time at 1 p.m. ET. But that doesn’t mean weather won’t be an issue. And there are a lot of contingency plans in place if the game gets delayed.

So here’s your primer.

And radar kind of indicates that there might be rain around 1 p.m. ET (puck drop), but it shouldn’t linger. But I’m no expert. I just google “weather.”

So, what happens if this thing goes sideways?

Scenario No. 1: High winds
Oh good, that doesn’t sound too bad. In that case, the two teams will just switch ends of the rink halfway through the third period (the 10-minute mark). The same thing will happen at the 2:30 minute mark in overtime.

Scenario No. 2: Unplayable conditions, game not tied
The game will be deemed “official” if two periods have been played. So whoever’s leading after that point will win the game.

Scenario No. 3: Unplayable conditions, game tied
Oh boy. Well, in that case, the game would head straight to a shootout. Just skip that whole “overtime” thing entirely. Both teams would earn one point, as you do. Imagine the controversy and consternation later in the season when some team misses the playoffs by one point these teams earned without playing a full game!

Scenario No. 4: Unplayable conditions after two periods, game tied, weather too bad for shootout
This is “Weird Hockey” territory. The shootout would still happen. But it wouldn’t happen on Monday.

It would happen the next time the Blackhawks and Blues play each other on Sunday, Feb. 26. Before that regularly scheduled game. A shootout before a full game. How bizarre would that be? St. Louis would be deemed the home team for the shootout, by the way.

Scenario No. 5: Unplayable conditions before two periods are done
The simplest resolution. The game is simply postponed until Tuesday, Jan. 3, at Busch Stadium. From the beginning. We try again.

However, it’s supposed to rain in St. Louis again on Tuesday. So if that can’t happen, the NHL will schedule a make-up game at Scottrade Center in St. Louis later in the season.

We’ve gone past two periods. The simplest resolution is off the table.

Let’s hope this just goes off without a hitch on Monday.

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