The Chicago Blackhawks led for a healthy chunk of Thursday’s Central Division clash against the St. Louis Blues, but they weren’t able to hold on as Vladimir Tarasenko scored twice to lift the Blues to a 2-1 victory.
The win seals the Blackhawks’ fate, as they will open the 2016 postseason on the road against either the Blues or the Dallas Stars. Jonathan Toews scored the lone goal of the game for the Blackhawks, notching a tally during 4-on-4 action in the second period.
In the first period, the Blackhawks had numerous opportunities on odd-man rushes, but they couldn’t capitalize. Artemi Panarin had a pass knocked away after he tried to feed the puck to Patrick Kane on a 2-on-1 rush, and Toews missed on a later odd-man break after he received a pass from Richard Panik.
Brian Elliott also got some help from his Blues teammates late in the first period, as Jay Bouwmeester made a spinning block on a Teuvo Teravainen opportunity to keep the game scoreless after 20 minutes of action.
About halfway through the second period, the Blackhawks and Blues were skating in 4-on-4 action, and they were able to capitalize. Kane set the play up as he pulled up at the blue line, and he fired a cross-ice pass to Toews in the slot. The captain skated toward the net and threaded a quick wrist shot between Elliott’s leg pads to give the Hawks a 1-0 lead.
The Blackhawks had an opportunity to extend their lead in the third period as Andrew Ladd was hooked on a breakaway, but his shot was denied by Elliott to keep the Blues’ hopes alive in the game.
Sure enough, with about a minute left in the game the Blues scored to tie things up. With Scott Darling scrambling in the netmouth, Tarasenko got his stick on the puck and flipped home a shot to tie the game at 1-1 and seal the Blackhawks’ playoff fate in the process.
For good measure, the Blackhawks also coughed up a late goal to the Blues in overtime to lose the second point. Tarasenko scored that goal too, firing it into an empty net after a tic-tac-toe passing play by his teammates following a turnover in the neutral zone.
The Blackhawks will have to play one more regular season game on Saturday night as they take on the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena.