Overtime playoff games generally end on fluke bounces, and that's exactly what happened on Wednesday night as a David Backes goal gave the St. Louis Blues a 1-0 win over the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 1.
Backes' goal came on a cross-ice pass that happened to deflect off of Trevor van Riemsdyk, and with that deflection the Hawks find themselves trailing 1-0 in the best-of-seven series.
The Blues got the game's first power play just three minutes in as Viktor Svedberg was whistled for a holding penalty, but the Blackhawks' penalty kill was in top form. They didn't allow a single shot, and Niklas Hjalmarsson made a big play as he blocked a Vladimir Tarasenko slapshot to keep the game scoreless.
With about seven minutes remaining, Chicago took their turn on the power play, but they failed in three successive attempts. The Blues' penalty killing unit, the second-ranked group in the league, kept things from getting too frenzied around Brian Elliott, and eventually a Brent Seabrook penalty put an end to the Hawks' chances.
After killing off a penalty early in the second period, the Blackhawks had their best scoring chance of the game. Brian Elliott came out of the net to play the puck, and Marian Hossa pressured him into a turnover. Artemi Panarin got near the puck in the slot, but he couldn't settle down the loose puck and get a shot on net.
The Blues upped their tempo in the closing minutes of the period, but Crawford made some big saves. Toews made a huge play as well, as a Jaden Schwartz rebound opportunity bounced off of the captain's skate and kept the game scoreless through 40 minutes of play.
Early in the third period, the Blackhawks got a power play chance, but they were unable to convert. They did continue to apply pressure to St. Louis when the game returned to even strength, with Marcus Kruger coming painfully close to putting home a shot off a Hossa rebound in front of the net.
The game continued at a slow pace as both teams played cautiously, and the Hawks kept getting the majority of the chances. Brandon Mashinter fed a pass to Teuvo Teravainen on a rush toward the net, but the Finnish center couldn't find paydirt, and the game headed to overtime tied at 0-0.
The Blackhawks had their opportunities in overtime to win the game, but unfortunately it was St. Louis that came out on top. After Crawford and Shaw combined for a turnover in the zone, the puck cycled over to Backes, and his attempted pass deflected into the net to give the Blues the victory.
The Hawks will look to even the series up at 1-1 on Friday night when things resume in St. Louis. Duncan Keith will make his return for the game, which will see the puck drop at 7 p.m.