(Photo: NHL Youtube)
It was a thrill ride of a game, with much of the third period resembling a Blackhawks Penalty Kill after blowing a 2-0 lead in the second, but Patrick Kane came in clutch in the end with a zinging wrister from the left circle, sending the puck over goalie Ryan Miller‘s shoulder and evening up the Round One playoff series at 2-2.
“Big difference between 3-1 and 2-2,” Kane said of the series. “Going into overtime, we were all pretty confident that we were going to get another win in front of our home crowd. It was just a matter of time in the overtime because we had a lot of chances.”
Kane has tied Jeremy Roenick‘s record (3) for the most franchise playoff overtime wins during this two goal, one assist outing.
“Their defensemen pinched so we kind of had a two-on-one…thing going down the ice,” Kane said. “(Brandon Saad) made a good play driving to the back post and gave me some space to try and get a shot off. I just tried to pull it to the middle and get it by their defenseman, try to use him as a screen and lucky enough it went in.”
This came after disappointingly hitting the pipe just a few minutes prior.
“He’s a dangerous player,” Blues Coach Ken Hitchcock said. “He’s dangerous off the rush. The most dangerous player in the league.”
The Hawks entered the danger zone themselves when they lost a 2-0 lead.
Then, the foundation began to crumble. Kane was called for a delay of game penalty 18:44 into the second, giving the Blues their fifth Power Play.
Just over a minute later, Max Lapierre shot from the right dot, hitting the pipe and deflecting off Crawford’s sweater and into the goal to make it a 2-2 game going into second intermission.
“We certainly weren’t happy,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “We’re going along fine and perfectly. We took to many penalties in the second period but we have a 2-0 lead late in the period. That one at the end of the period reminded me of the one late in Game 2. (I thought), ‘Here we go again.’ We started slower in the third because of that, and then we had to press a lot more at the end to get the equalizer.”
The Blues used their momentum to open the third period with Tarasenko’s second goal of the game (giving him four in the playoffs) off a pass from Pietrangelo 12:26 into the third.
Aside from those two goals, the third period was a game of keep-away, blocked shots, and, for fans, reminders to inhale and exhale.
Crawford and Miller each had 30 saves in the game.
The Blackhawks head back to St. Louis for a 7 p.m. CT face-off Friday.
“We have the momentum so we’ll try to keep it,” Kane added “We’re going to expect a tough game, especially going into their building. I’m sure it’s going to be rocking. It’s important to come out strong in that game and try to keep the momentum we have.”
Keys to winning in the Show-Me State:
- Show them Blackhawks hockey. Don’t give in to the Blues’ style of play. Hits were 42-32 Blues this game and have favored St. Louis the entire series. The best retaliation does not involve a roughing call, however. It’s a victory.
- Maximize the Power Play. Use the man-advantage.
- Stay out of the box. Do not take mindless penalties. Every momentum shift is costly in a tight series.
- Protect your players. Avoid vulnerable situations. With Steve Ott after Michal Handzus Wednesday, LaPierre targeting Brookbank Monday and Wednesday, and the wounds still fresh from Captain David Backes‘ injury, it’s wise to keep heads up.
- Be ready for Backes’ return. Hitchcock isn’t going to show his cards until the very last moment. Despite having one assist and a -1 in the two games before his injury, Backes has a very powerful, physical presence on the ice that can’t be ignored. And Brent Seabrook, who had one goal and one assist in each of the games before being suspended for his hit on Backes will be out until Sunday.
- Shoot. Shoot. Shoot. Shoot the puck. Get it to the net. Rebound. Deflect. Focus less on complicated setups and more on gritty goals and hard shots from the point.
- And, don’t stop playing until the final horn sounds. No lead is big enough to be ahead or to come from behind, Because It’s The Cup.