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Tarasenko powers Blues past Blackhawks in Winter Classic

Tarasenko powers Blues past Blackhawks in Winter Classic Jennifer Griggs/via

Forward scores two goals in third period to give St. Louis 4-1 victory


ST. LOUIS-Yesterday afternoon, the NHL kicked off the celebration of its centennial season with a classic between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings. Today, it was the St. Louis Blues and Chicago Blackhawks’ turn to hit the outdoors at the 2017 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic. Like in Monday’s game, this afternoon’s game was decided by one of the league’s young superstars.

Forward Vladimir Tarasenko scored two goals in the third period to push the Blues to a 4-1 victory over the Blackhawks in front of 46, 556 fans at Busch Stadium.

There were concerns last night and this morning about the game possibly having to be pushed back due to potential rain in the area, but the weather cooperated enough to get things going at the scheduled time of 1 PM ET.

And it didn’t take Chicago, playing in their fifth outdoor game, long to get things going offensively. 1:02 into the game, defenseman Michal Kempny fired a knuckling slap shot from the point that bounced off the ice, a St. Louis defender, and past Blues goalie Jake Allen to give the visitors an early 1-0 lead.

It was Kempny’s second goal of the season.

That would be all the scoring in the first as both teams seemed to try and get used to the elements, as they combined for only 14 shots on goal in the opening period.

The teams came out with better jump in the second and created more quality offensive chances. 7:45 into the middle frame, the home team would tie the game when forward Patrik Berglund one-timed a pass from defenseman Jay Bouwmeester in the slot past goalie Corey Crawford for his seventh of the year.

Apart from tying the game, it was also milestone moment for St. Louis forward Alexander Steen. With a secondary assist on Berglund’s goal, Steen reached 300 assists and 500 points in his NHL career.

Despite more quality chances, though, the teams would head to the second intermission all knotted at one.

In the third, Tarsenko would make his presence felt.

Having already had six shots on goal through the first two periods, the 25-year-old would give the Blues the lead for good in an unconventional manner.

With 7:55 remaining in the game, Tarasenko would net his 17th goal of the season when he banked a pass off of Chicago defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson‘s skate into the net to give his team a 2-1 lead.

1:53 later, he would use more conventional means to get his second of the game by snapping a wrist shot just under Crawford’s glove from the left wing to give St. Louis a 3-1 advantage.

Steen would then put a bow on the festivities for the home team as he added an empty-net goal with 1:14 left for his fourth of year and send most of the sellout crowd home happy with a 4-1 victory.

It was a great performance for the Blues, who were participating in their first outdoor game. It was also a big two points for St. Louis, as they moved to within six points of Chicago for first in the Central Division.

The Blackhawks, meanwhile, fell to 1-4 in games played outside. They also missed an opportunity to get some space from the Minnesota Wild, who are just one point behind them for first in the division and Western Conference.

Both teams will now be off until Thursday when Chicago hosts Buffalo and St. Louis will welcome Carolina.

Three Stars of the Game:

1st Star: Vladimir Tarasenko, STL

2nd Star: Jake Allen, STL

3rd Star: Duncan Keith, CHI