(Photo: AP/Chris Lee)

Coming back from a 2-0 series deficit, the Blackhawks eliminated the Blues Sunday night with a four-game win streak. The powerful 5-1 victory shut the door on a tumultuous first round.

The Game 6 home win sent the Blues back to St. Louis with the Windy City’s own blues ballad, Sweet Home Chicago.

This makes the Blackhawks 11-2 in series-clinching games since 2009.

While the series didn’t start strong, this game certainly did.

At 4:12 into the first period, Bryan Bickell tipped a shot from Brent Seabrook (also assisting, Duncan Keith) to strike first.

In similar fashion to their matchups so far this season, T.J. Oshie knotted the score with a slapshot (Alexander Steen, Jay Bouwmeester) with just 3:32 left in the first.

That score would hold through the second period, despite three Blackhawks penalties (including a double-minor high-sticking call against Marian Hossa) and two Blues penalties. Shots favored St. Louis 28-11 by second intermission.

A Bouwmeester tripping penalty benefited the Blackhawks, who returned from the break hot.

Just 44 seconds into the third, Captain Jonathan Toews scored with a wrister (Keith, Seabrook) on the power play. With that momentum in their favor, they didn’t look back.

Patrick Sharp broke his postseason dry-spell with a gritty breakaway goal, complete with a stick to the face, about a minute later (his score negated what likely would have been a penalty shot.) The other Patrick, Patrick Kane, was credited with the assist.

“The third goal was really a back-breaker for us,” Blues Coach Ken Hitchcock said. “That was really the one that hurt because we’ve been chasing all series and been able to catch up in games, but the third goal really took the wind out of our sails. We earned the power plays. We earned the power plays because of the way we worked and battled. We played a great first two periods. I thought the third goal, you could see a big sag on the team after that.”

And the Blackhawks capitalized. At 12:30 in the third, Andrew Shaw deflected a shot from Keith (also assisting, Michal Rozsival), making it 4-1 Chicago.

“This was a tough series,” Shaw said. “They’re a physical team. They’re a great team over there and obviously got a lot of big bodies they’re going to throw around, but we just kind of tried weathering the storm every game and used our legs and brains instead of our shoulders.”

And, for a little more insurance in these playoffs where no lead can really be high enough, Keith fired a wrister on a pass from Shaw (also assisting, Marcus Kruger) for the final score of 5-1.

Blues netminder Ryan Miller made 22 saves. Corey Crawford stopped 35 for the Blackhawks.

“As the series progressed we had to raise the level of battle and perseverance,” Blackhawks Coach Joel Quenneville said. “You needed every shift to get through this (Blues) team because they’re heavy, strong and relentless. Every game was more challenging and they played their best game today. We were fortunate to come out of it the way it ended up.”

The Blues led, again, in hits for the game–at 43-22.

Defense was prominent this series for the Hawks, who took the lead in blocked shots, 20-13, thanks to Niklas Hjalmarsson, Michal Handzus, and Keith.

“I’ve been around six years with Duncs, that may have been the best game I’ve ever seen him play,” Quenneville said. “We’re not just looking at his point production but his quickness, his patience and he defended well. He did everything well. We’re very happy for him and the way he played. It was a special, special night for him.”

Keith is a James Norris Trophy finalist. He won the award, given to the defenseman who “demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-around ability in the position,” in 2010.

“To a certain degree, we want to act like we’ve been here before and show respect for how good that (Blues) team is and how well they’ve played,” Toews said. “But getting out of the first round doesn’t mean you’ve done anything yet. We can enjoy this win for the next few days and feel real good about it and let our bodies heal, but maybe that’s just us saying we’re not satisfied and we’re going to keep working for more.”

The Blackhawks will play the winner of the Minnesota Wild-Colorado Avalanche series as they advance in the playoffs.

This gives the Hawks a “magic number” of 12. It would take 12 wins for their “One Goal.”

12

Carly Mullady grew up needing to know more about icing than its deliciousness on cupcakes. She's the lone daughter of four children, with a father who was among the last cut from the Midwest tryouts for the 1980 Miracle on Ice Olympic team. And she knows very little matches the thrill that happens from puck-drop to handshakes. A rink didn’t return to her hometown until she was gone, but she’s been able to see two younger brothers on the ice. She's their feistiest fan. Her other hockey loyalty lies with the Blackhawks--whether it's meant seeing games for $8 with student IDs when the Madhouse didn’t have much of a temper at all, or dancing to Chelsea Dagger at standing room only--there’s something magical about a roaring anthem, the Indianhead sweater, and the Original Six. A former journalist and current editor, she carries a penchant for excitement (and maybe even fighting) with a resume that includes working for Chicago-area newspapers, and television, including The Jerry Springer Show, as well as NBCUniversal in New York. After East Coast living and a return to the Chicago area, the new Mrs. is giving Graceland a go with her Southern Gent, who now shares her adoration of the game, and their rescue dog, Doc Holliday. Other interests include Cubs, Bears, Illini, Crimson Tide, Pumpkin Spice Lattes, baking a mean pineapple upside-down cake, Kate Spade accessories, and a properly coordinated cardigan for every ensemble.

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