CHICAGO — The Chicago Blackhawks are taking a more direct approach to generating offense without injured star forwards Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane.
So far, it’s working.
Rookie Jeremy Morin scored and set up Patrick Sharp’s go-ahead goal in the second period, and injury-depleted Chicago held on to defeat the St. Louis Blues 4-2 on Sunday for its third consecutive win.
The Blackhawks ground out the victory despite playing without Toews’ powerful skating and Kane’s puck-handling skills for the third game. Forward Brandon Saad was a last-minute scratch.
“We’ve simplified our game quite a bit,” said Sharp, who scored his team-leading 33rd goal. “We’re not trying to make as many plays offensively. We’re battling hard.
“Usually when you battle hard individually and as a team, good things happen. We’ve raised our battle level lately, but we’re just keeping things simple. Getting pucks in, getting pucks out.”
Marcus Kruger and Ben Smith also scored for Chicago, which closed to one point behind Colorado for second place in the Central Division and home ice in the first round of the playoffs.
Toews, Chicago’s captain, sat out his third game with an upper-body injury suffered last Sunday when he was drilled by Pittsburgh’s Brooks Orpik. Kane, who has resumed skating, missed his ninth with a lower-body injury suffered against the Blues on March 19.
STARS: Missed an opportunity to tighten their grip on their first playoff spot in six years.
Sean Bergenheim scored with 4:31 left to break a third-period tie, and the Florida Panthers snapped a five-game losing streak in a 3-2 win over Dallas.
The Stars still hold a one-point lead over the Phoenix Coyotes for the second Western Conference wild-card spot.
• Forward Ray Whitney missed his second consecutive game because of a lower-body injury Sunday.