Corey Crawford #50 of the Chicago Blackhawks makes a save against the St. Louis Blues in Game Two of the First Round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Scottrade Center on April 19, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Vladimir Tarasenko scored with less than seven seconds left in regulation to tie the game up, and Barret Jackman scored in the early stages of overtime as the St. Louis Blues knocked off the Chicago Blackhawks by a score of 4-3 to take a 2-0 lead in the teams’ first round playoff series.
Michal Rozsival, Brent Seabrook, and Duncan Keith scored goals for the Blackhawks, and Corey Crawford made 27 saves in a losing effort. Chris Porter and Kevin Shattenkirk added goals for the Blues as they held serve at home for the second consecutive game.
After the Blackhawks failed to score on an early power play in the first period, the Blues slowly started generating some positive momentum on offense, and they got a goal as a result. After Jordan Leopold’s shot from the point was deflected by Seabrook, Chris Porter picked up the loose puck and fired it back towards the net, where Crawford was screened by David Backes. The shot found its way in, and just seven minutes into the game the Blues had a 1-0 lead.
The Blackhawks got another power play in the middle stages of the frame, but they once again were unable to score. They lost several puck battles, and they couldn’t seem to cycle the puck around the zone even when they did hang onto it. In the minutes following the successful kill for the Blues, they got a couple of really good opportunities, as both Kevin Shattenkirk and Steve Ott were denied as their shots rang off the post to keep the lead at just one goal.
Unfortunately for the Hawks, they couldn’t get to the intermission unscathed, as the Blues scored with just two seconds remaining in the period to make it 2-0. Crawford had to scramble around the crease to stop several shots as his teammates were unable to clear the puck, and eventually Shattenkirk got the puck at the point and blasted in a goal when Crawford stumbled in the crease, and just like that the Blues had a two goal lead as the period concluded.
In the first half of the second period, the Blues got a slew of power play opportunities, but thanks to some stellar play by the Hawks’ forwards, they weren’t able to convert. Both Marcus Kruger and Marian Hossa made a couple of really nice stick checks to keep the puck from cycling around at the point, and despite having three power plays, the Blues’ lead remained at two goals.
The Hawks finally started getting some good scoring chances in the later stages of the period, with Patrick Sharp and Hossa both seeming to hit their stride as the frame wore on. Finally, the Hawks were able to get on the board after a great stick check behind the Blues’ net by Kris Versteeg, and when Keith got the puck, his shot from the point found its way past Miller to make it a 2-1 game with less than three minutes remaining in the period.
After the horn sounded for the second period, several players engaged in some post-horn shenanigans, and as a result, the Blackhawks had a power play to begin the third period. They weren’t able to score on that, but just a few minutes later, they were able to tie the game up. After corralling the puck as it rolled along the boards, Seabrook teed off on a one-timer slap shot, and it deflected off of Porter’s skate and over Ryan Miller’s shoulder to tie things up at 2-2.
Just a few minutes later, the Hawks scored again to take a stunning 3-2 lead. This time, it was Rozsival doing the honors, as his shot from the point hit David Backes and skipped past Miller to give Chicago the lead. They almost made it 4-2 when Hossa got two straight chances from in close, but Miller was able to stop both, and the saves proved to be crucial later on in the game.
The Blackhawks got back into penalty trouble in the middle stages of the period, as both Keith and Bryan Bickell committed highly undisciplined penalties. Keith picked up a high-sticking minor, and Bickell stuck his leg out to try to hit Vladimir Sobotka. Fortunately for Chicago, they were able to kill off those two penalties, but Seabrook got in on the bad penalty party as he drilled Backes up high, drawing a five minute major and a game misconduct.
The Blues didn’t have much going on the ensuing lengthy power play, but with less than 10 seconds remaining in the game, they were able to tie things up. The Blues got a lot of traffic to the front of the net, and when the Hawks couldn’t clear the puck, Tarasenko snuck in through the slot and fired a shot through traffic and just inside the near post to make it a 3-3 game heading into overtime.
Just three minutes into the overtime period, the Blackhawks went short-handed once again as Jonathan Toews headed to the box for a high-sticking minor. Michal Handzus and Kruger both made several good plays to block shots and jump into passing lanes, but the duo couldn’t finish off a 2-on-1 rush as the Blues avoided a short-handed goal that would have tied the series.
Once again though, it was the Hawks’ inability to clear the zone that did them in. The puck found its way along the boards to Jackman, who rifled in a shot that went right past both Johnny Oduya and Niklas Hjalmarsson and squeezed between Crawford’s pads to give the Blues a 2-0 lead in the series.
The Hawks will look to rebound on Monday night when the scene shifts to Chicago for Game 3. The puck will drop at 7:30pm, and the game will air on CSN Chicago locally and CNBC nationally.