(HockeyStL) - On his first shift of the game, Vladimir Tarasenko blocked a shot from the Backhawks Duncan Keith. Then later in the first, the Russian firecracker would score from down on one knee.
After missing 15 games, Tarasenko proved his worth to the Blues in only the first 20 minutes back, scoring at the 15:52 point in the first. His goal came a little over a minute after the Hawks had taken the lead.
“He was huge,” said head coach Ken Hitchcock, “Now all of a sudden we look dangerous off the rush again. We’ve been struggling with that since he’s gone out, but we look dangerous off the rush again.”
Back on a line with Jaden Schwartz and Vladimir Sobotka, Tarasenko saw 23:52 of ice time in the 3 OT game, while registering 3:13 on the power play. He also logged 41 shifts, his goal coming on only his seventh shift of the game.
Hitchcock was impressed with the line’s ability to pick up their chemistry right where they left off.
“[Thursday] was the first game in six weeks that [Schwartz, Sobotka and Tarasenko] played together,” he said, “Then halfway through the game it looked like they were back on familiar ground again.”
“For me what was impressive with Vlad, he was able to do a lot of things conditioning-wise that helped him a lot. But I think from first playoff game standpoint, he looked like he did in the regular season which, for us, was a real good sign.”
The Note went 7-9 in Tarasenko's 15 game absence.