Three areas that new Blues coach Ken Hitchcock wanted to address showed signs of improvement after just one game. The Blues fixed the worst power play, the fourth-worst penalty kill and stepped up in goaltending as the Blues beat the Chicago Blackhawks 3-0.
First, goalie Jaroslav Halak stopped 29 shots to win for only the second time in eight starts entering the game with a 1-6 record, a 3.35 goals-against average and just an .856 save percentage.
The Blues came into the game 3-for-40, (7.5%) on the power play. They also came in allowing 11 goals on 42 penalty kill attempts but killed off three Hawks power plays in the second period that all came within a span of nine minutes, when they were holding on to a 2-0 lead.
The Blues finished 1 for 2 on the power play and killed off all four Chicago power plays. Vladimir Sobotka, Chris Stewart and T.J. Oshie scored for the Blues, who are 7-7 overall, but 4-1 on home ice.
A good start for Hitchcock, but he even admitted he needs to step up his game with quicker decisions. I need to get up to speed a little quicker. It won’t take me very long, but for me, this isn’t like walking into a regular-season game. This was not a regular-season game, this was a playoff game. I walked into a playoff game and it was quick. I was up to speed for a little while, but when it really got going, I need to improve.”
Hitchcock was the first Blues coach since Mike Keenan in 1995 to win his debut.