(KMOV.com) - Early Sunday evening the St. Louis Blues did something they haven’t done in 14 years - win a playoff game in Chicago. It was a slow and steady comeback as the Blues beat the Blackhawks 3-2 to take a 2-1 series lead.
The Blues were able to take advantage of a double-minor high sticking penalty committed by Patrick Kane in the third with the game tied at two. That put the Note on a four minute extra man advantage and they capitalized as Jaden Schwartz buried a pass from David Backes.
"We had a lot of great chances, probably should have put one in earlier," said Schwartz of his STL line-mates Jori Lehtera and Vladimir Tarasenko. "But tried to stay as positive as we could and it's nice to see that go in especially when you're getting good chances. It was a big relief there and a big win."
The team couldn’t get another power play goal despite more than two minutes remaining in the advantage sending fans to reach for their tin foil hats and cover their eyes for the eventual Blackhawks comeback.
But St. Louis held on, able to weather the next four minutes including the final minute of play when Chicago pulled Corey Crawford. As the clock ticked down to zero with the Blues still ahead on the scoreboard, fans and players breathed a sigh of relief for the first time in 60 long and harrowing minutes.
It’s a far cry from where the game begin with a rocky start for the boys in blue when they took three dumb penalties in the first eight minutes of the game. Miraculously the Blues held the Hawks to just one goal in that time span. They were able to get their own power play goal a few minutes later when Vladimir Tarasenko drew a high sticking call and Colton Parayko hammered a one-timer at Crawford.
"We created a ton of offense," said Blackhawks captain Jonathon Toews. "There were a lot of chances that maybe sometimes we tried to get too pretty. Give their goaltender a lot of credit. He played a great game. Unfortunately we couldn't quite get it but even going to the end of the period we still felt like we had a chance to even the game up but it happens."
Then the Blues had to survive an onslaught in the second when Chicago threw 24 shots at Brian Elliott. He turned all but one away, a shot from in front by Artem Anisimov. while the Blues headed into the intermission down one.
“They got that many? Wow, that's pretty good,” Hitchcock said in his post game interview when asked about the Hawks’ plethora of shots in the second. "We've comeback so many times, we already have seven this year, it just doesn't seem to be a big deal with this group. We've got a lot of resiliency in us the season made us do that we had no choice. There's a lot confidence in our group that we're never out of it."
It was that mentality that had the Blues confident in the second intermission.
"In the dressing room here we kind of said we'll take this over, one good period and we'll win the game and that's what the guys did," Elliott said.
That's exactly what they did in the third. The Blues ramped up the pressure, swamping Alexander Steen and Robby Fabbri on lines, and often kept Chicago penned back in their zone. Patrik Berglund pulled his team even 5:15 into the period with a big wrist shot from just inside the blue line. The puck deflect off Michal Rozsival’s skate and past Crawford.
Chicago outshot St. Louis 46-36 while the Blues were able to convert two of their three power plays and the Blackhawks went 1-for-4. It was a tug-of-war the Blues were able to wrestle away from the defending champs.
"This feels very much emotion just like a final and it's the first round," added Hitchcock. "It feels very much like a final. Both teams are just laying it out there. I think that we have home ice back again. To me that's the whole thing we have home ice again and we've got to find a way to keep it now."
The Blues had not won a playoff game in Chicago since April 23, 2002 when the late Pavol Demitra scored the game winner. They've also won four of their last five games at the United Center, including two consecutive third period comebacks, dating through the regular season and playoffs.
Other game notes:
- Parayko is the first Blues rookie to score in a playoff game since Bryce Salvador in 2001.
- Tarasenko recorded one assist and had seven shots on goal tying a postseason career high.
- Fabbri collected two assists becoming the first rookie to record multiple assists in a postseason game since Jochen Hecht in 2000.
- Blues are the first team to beat the Blackhawks in regulation when trailing after two periods since the Kings in 2014.
Game 4 is scheduled for Tuesday at 8:30 p.m.