The St. Louis Blues tied Games 1 and 2 late in regulation before winning in overtime, but the Chicago Blackhawks flipped the script on Wednesday night as Patrick Kane netted the game winning goal to help his team to a 4-3 victory.
The goal tied the series up at two games apiece, and saw several players have great nights. Kane scored another goal in addition to his overtime winner, and Bryan Bickell and Andrew Shaw each added goals as the Hawks won their second game in a row.
The Blackhawks and Blues both got off to a nice start in terms of pushing the early tempo, but it was the Hawks who got the majority of the chances in the first few minutes of the game. Andrew Shaw’s line really came to play to start the game, but Kris Versteeg was ultimately denied on a chance as he skated through the slot. The Hawks got another chance when Kane got into the zone, but Ryan Miller was there to make the stop to keep the game scoreless.
Marian Hossa also got in on the act, picking up two straight scoring chances from in close. The second skipped away from Miller after he made the save, but Sharp was unable to elevate the puck enough to sneak it past the Blues’ goaltender, and the Hawks were held off the board once again.
The Blackhawks wrapped up the period with a few more good chances despite surrendering a late power play, with Bickell firing a shot off the far post on what was the Hawks’ best chance of the game.
As the second period got underway, the Blues picked up back-to-back power plays, but despite some good puck movement they couldn’t cash in on either chance. Michal Handzus picked up yet another shot block and clear to finish off the second power play, and Crawford made a few good saves of his own, including one on a redirected shot by Steve Ott that nearly found its way into the net.
After the successful kills, the Hawks got a power play of their own, and they immediately made the Blues pay. Kane collected the puck along the boards, and drove in towards the net. His pass found Toews, and the captain managed to push a shot towards the goal. It deflected off of Shaw’s skate near the crease, but the gritty forward was able to hit a backhand shot out of midair that got past Miller, and the United Center erupted as the Blackhawks took a 1-0 lead.
The Hawks picked up another successful penalty kill after Bickell was sent to the box for a high stick, and Crawford was once again in the middle of things. He robbed Jay Bouwmeester and TJ Oshie on back-to-back shots to preserve Chicago’s lead, and he was rewarded when his team scored a goal a few minutes later. Johnny Oduya made a brilliant move as he stopped to allow his teammates to get into the zone, and he rifled a cross-ice pass right onto Kane’s stick. The Hawks forward didn’t miss on the easy one-timer chance, and in the blink of an eye the Hawks had a two goal lead.
Unfortunately for Chicago, their strong play seemed to leave them in the late stages of the period. With the Blues on yet another power play, Vladimir Tarasenko kicked out into the slot after a won face-off, and his shot through traffic ended up sneaking past Crawford on the near side to make it a 2-1 game. With just three seconds left, the Blues scored again to tie things up, as the Hawks failed to clear the zone. Max Lapierre made them pay for their ineptitude, flicking a shot off of the post that ricocheted off Crawford and into the net, and the Hawks skated off the ice in stunned silence as the game was tied 2-2 after two periods.
The Blues came out of the second intermission full of the same zeal that they had displayed at the end of the period, and they picked up a slew of chances before finally lighting the lamp. This time, it was Tarasenko again, as the Blues entered the zone on a quick rush. The Hawks’ defenders all took away passing lanes on the far side of the ice, but Crawford was unable to square Tarasenko up as the talented Russian winger blasted a shot past his glove to give the Blues a 3-2 lead.
With a little over three minutes left in the game however, the Hawks finally found some life and tied things up. After an excellent possession by the Hawks, Michal Rozsival got the puck at the point and fired in a low shot that was headed just wide of the post. Bickell managed to get a stick on the pass-shot, and the deflection was enough to force the puck past Miller, and the game ended up tied at 3-3.
Both teams really pressed hard in the closing minutes of the game, and both teams had legitimate shots to win the game in regulation. Nick Leddy and Kane both picked up some great chances for the Hawks after a long and sustained possession, but Miller was able to stop both of them, and the two teams headed to overtime for the third time in four games.
The overtime period started with a bit of tentative play as both teams tried to figure out one another, but Ben Smith really started to press the issue as the frame wore on. His backhanded attempt early in the period was barely stopped by Miller, and off of a great feed from Kane on the rush, he fluttered a shot just wide, drawing groans from the capacity crowd.
After Crawford made a really nifty save on a quick shot from Oshie, the Hawks came roaring back with a couple of quality chances. Kane got a nice pass from Leddy off the rush, but his shot rang off the crossbar to keep the game tied. A few moments later, Brandon Saad got his first high quality chance of the night as he worked his way through traffic and then fired a backhanded shot just over the net.