(Photo: Chicago Blackhawks Facebook)

Two third period goals propelled the St. Louis Blues past the Blackhawks in Chicago Sunday afternoon, regaining the series lead (2-1) with a 3-2 victory.

It was the first time since the Los Angeles King‘s Western Conference Final Game Two 6-2 victory in 2014 that an opponent has been able win after the Blackhawks led by two after two periods of regulation–ending a 71-0-5 record for Chicago in that time.

But, more significant than this “streak,” the Blues showed that they can steal the upper hand with their backs against the wall and suck the wind out of the Hawks’ sails.

“We’ve come back so many times,” St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock said. “I don’t know what we’ve done, seven or eight already this year. It just doesn’t seem to be a big deal with this group. We’ve got a lot of resiliency in us.”

Resiliency had been trademark Blackhawks in recent seasons; but, this year has been a different story, as they’ve struggled against the rest of the west and energy has visibly dwindled as the clock ticks down.

Game Three

Following the traditional Chicago anthem, Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook started the game off the way the 22,000-plus fans wanted to see it, with a franchise record-breaker.

 

Just 2:18 after puck drop, he shot through traffic from the center of the blue line and past an Andrew Ladd screen to score on Brian Elliott for a power play goal. The first goal of the game was set up by a Patrick Kane to Captain Jonathan Toews to Seabrook play.

But, the Blues would balance the score about 10 minutes later with a power play goal of their own. After going 0-for-5 on the power play, Defenseman Colton Parayko fired a scorching one-timer past goalie Corey Crawford after a Robby Fabbri faceoff win and a dish from Alex Pietrangelo. It may have been helped by Blackhawks forward Tomas Fleischmann.

The second period seemed to be in Chicago’s favor–they led in shots 24-13–but all they had to show for it was an early goal.

In the first minute, Elliott was barraged with shots. Four seconds later, Artem Anisimov, having just been kicked out of the faceoff circle, got one past him with a setup arranged from Artemi Panarin‘s first NHL faceoff–a failure.

Panarin made no effort for the dropped puck, but instead chased and pickpocketed it from the Blues in the corner, passing it to an open net-front Anisimov, who swatted the wobbly puck past Elliott.

The two comrades seemed to orchestrate the play when Anisimov was thrown away from the dot.

 


And then the third period happened. St. Louis took charge with an early message and a final statement. They led the period in shots 14-12.

Patrik Berglund knotted the score just under five minutes into the third with a shot that hit defenseman Michal Rozsival‘s left skate before bouncing on the ice and over Crawford’s glove.

 


“Stuff happens in games and playoffs,” said Crawford, who made 33 saves. “You have to try to not hang onto moments like that and let that affect you. We were in control of that game and that’s a tough one. A wicked, wicked bounce. You just somehow have to not let that get in your way and keep playing.”

The rest of the period would feel like a penalty kill for the Blackhawks. But, the nail in the team’s coffin would be an actual penalty kill–a double minor when Kane drew blood on Pietrangelo with a high-stick.

At 1:31 into the Blues’ power play, Jaden Schwartz fired off Captain David Backes‘ pass from the low slot past Crawford. Vladimir Tarasenko was also credited with an assist.

 


“I was trying to lift the guy’s stick there and got it up,” Kane said. “You see there’s blood there, you know it’s not a good thing. [I’ve] just got to be smarter in that situation. I’ll take responsibility on that one, for sure.”

Even returning to a man-advantage with Crawford pulled, the Blackhawks couldn’t pull off another goal. Elliott was a wall and the Blues blocked shots and shut down cycling attempts.

For the game as a whole, St. Louis won 42 faceoffs to Chicago’s 41 and capitalized on two of three power plays while Chicago was one for four. The Blues also led in hits, 40-36. Chicago had more shots, 46-36, blocked shots, 19-13, and, to their dismay, giveaways, 12-9.

“There’s gonna be big momentum swings. You saw that last game,” Kane told media after Game Three. “They obviously had a good response tonight. It’s our turn to respond.”

Game Four, How to Respond

The Blackhawks do not want to face a Game Five elimination game in St. Louis.

They need to channel whatever energy it takes to get psyched for victory tonight, whether it be compassion for the 22,000+ fans who dropped paychecks getting into the arena and the rest of us suffering from sports-induced anxiety worsened by late weeknight starts, or simple frustration.

 


One way to to lose the scowl is to score. They have to get past the Blues’ shot-blockers and Elliott for that. Good screens and creative-playmaking will come in handy.

“We’ve got to have a better cycle game in their end. We’re doing a good job of getting pucks out of our end,” Shaw said. “We were keeping pucks to the outside, making sure they don’t get any opportunities, but we’ve got to get pucks behind their D and make them turn, and use the back of the net for our cycle game.”

Some lineup adjustments may make a difference as well.

Andrew Desjardins and Richard Panik are likely back in the lineup for Dale Weise and Brandon Mashinter.

After being scratched Game Three, Desjardins told media he learned what he needs to show on the ice, “A little bit more swagger, a little more attitude, a little bit more grit. Just all around better.”

The Hawks are 43-14 (just over 75 percent) in Games 4-7 of the playoffs in Joel Quenneville’s seven seasons as head coach. In the past three seasons, they’re 26-6, just over 81 percent. At home, that nears 94 percent with a 15-1 record.

This series has been close. Game One was decided by a bad bounce in overtime. Game Two was pretty evenly-matched as well. With Sunday’s narrow loss, there’s no reason why the Hawks can’t turn it on and make the comeback hiding somewhere in their core–in the so far quiet offense of Toews, stuck-on-499 goals Marian Hossa, regular season points leader Kane, and regular season hot rookie Panarin, to name a few.

“We’ve been in situations before when we’ve been trailing and we’ve been able to find a way,” Duncan Keith told the SunTimes. “Anytime you can draw on that experience, it’s a good thing and we’re going to try to do that again in this series. It’s all about executing in the moment.”

The Blackhawks need to get hyped at the potential of raising 35 pounds of silver above their heads again. It is a feeling many of them know (14 of the 22 who have hit the ice this postseason have lifted it at least once) and salary cap restrictions are going to render very difficult to repeat again anytime soon.

Because it’s the Cup.

 

Remaining schedule:

 

  • Game 4: St. Louis at Chicago 8:30 p.m. CT Tuesday, April 19, NBCSN, Sportsnet, TVA Sportsnet
  • Game 5: Chicago at St. Louis 8:30 p.m. CT Thursday, April 21, CSN-CH, NBCSN, TVAS, SN
  • Game 6: St. Louis at Chicago, Saturday, April 23, TBA
  • Game 7: Chicago at St. Louis, Monday, April 25, CSN-CH

 


 (As always, click videos for views of goals and other plays, and bolded links for more information.)

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.

NO COMMENTS

Leave a Reply