Saturday, April 19, 2014

Blues rally after losing Backes, go up 2-0 in series against Blackhawks

Captain recipient of Seabrook hit; Tarasenko ties it late, Jackman wins it in OT

ST. LOUIS -- It was a blow to the head that the Blues hope doesn't knock their captain out of perhaps the playoffs that was delivered by Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook.

The Blues didn't respond with any sort of aggression. They responded with the proper punch in the gut -- on the scoreboard.

The Blues took command of Game 2 of their Western Conference First Round series against the Blackhawks early, saw the defending Cup champs regroup and get a lead, but after seeing their captain wobbly from a crunching hit from Seabrook that earned him a five-minute major for charging and game misconduct -- as well as likely a call from the NHL Department of Player Safety with a possible suspension looming -- the Blues will head to Chicago with a 2-0 series lead.
(St. Louis Blues/Mark Buckner)
Alex Pietrangelo embraces teammate Barret Jackman (5) after Jackman 
scored the winning goal in Game 2 Saturday against the Blackhawks.

Vladimir Tarasenko's tying goal with 6.4 seconds sent the game into overtime, and Barret Jackman's overtime goal 5 minutes, 50 seconds in gave the Blues a come-from-behind 4-3 victory against the Blackhawks on Saturday at Scottrade Center.

Jackman let the eruption of 19,639 paint the picture for him. The only responsibility the Blues defenseman had was firing the puck towards the goal.

When the puck squirted through the pads of Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford, it put the defending Stanley Cup champions on the ropes. 

Jackman's shot from the top of the left circle found its way through Crawford pads with Maxim Lapierre in front setting a screen. 

Game 3 set for Chicago's United Center on Monday night. Game 4 is Wednesday night.

"I think I still had my eyes closed by the time I got mobbed," said Jackman, who also scored a game-winning goal in the Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Los Angeles Kings last season. "The eruption of the building said it all. It's a pretty neat feeling.

"I was just kind of focused on getting it by ... I think it was (Blackhawks defenseman Niklas) Hjalmarsson and one of their forwards were kind of coming at me. I just wanted to get it past their shin pads and just happened to squeak through."

Crawford said: "It was a little bit of a screen but it went straight through. I had my pads together but there was a little space there and it just kind of squeezed through."

Lapierre's presence may have affected Crawford.

"I just tried to screen the goalie to be honest," Lapierre said. "I don't know what happened, but it's a big win. 

"I think we showed character. We heard a lot of bad things after losing six in a row in the regular season, l but we got a big win in the last minute last game and we did it again. It's unreal and this is great for our team."

Tarasenko's wrister from just inside the top of the right circle zipped through a screen and past Crawford. It came with the Blues skating 6-on-4 after pulling goaltender Ryan Miller with 1:46 remaining and with Seabrook ejected with 4:41 remaining.

Backes did not return to the game

"How do you think he is? Not great," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "We'll let the league deal with it."

The Blues were determined to answer the play on the ice.

"We got a five-minute power play and 5-on-3," said Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo. "It certainly changed momentum the last five minutes of the game. 

"You never want to see Dave go down like that, he's an important player the way he works on and off the ice. We thought the best revenge at that point would be to get the puck and score. That's what we did."

Added left wing Chris Porter, who scored his second career playoff goal: "As soon as that hit happened, we're like, 'We're winning this for him.' In these five minutes, we're going to score, we're going to win it whether it's in regulation or in overtime."

Seabrook, who scored in the third period to tie the game 2-2, said: "I was just trying to make a play on Backes. I thought the puck was there, I was on (Alexander) Steen, I was just coming down the wall and I just tried to finish my hit."

The Blues, who were 1-for-8 on the power play, converted when Pietrangelo found Tarasenko, who slapped into a wrister and dropped to his knees after scoring his second career playoff goal and in as many games.

"I didn't know how many seconds left," Tarasenko said. "I just tried to be open for 'Petro.' I know I will wrist it as quick as I can, probably low glove shot. Our whole team work all game. If you work hard and trust your team, trust your coaches, you will come back.

"Just pick a spot. Kind of a hard shot for a goalie, but again, it's not about me. It's all about our partners. Petro gave it too me, (Jaden) Schwartz made a nice screen ... guys dig in all shift, so it's a great team win. We can't lose in our mind. Series is not over, the hardest game is coming. So we'll be ready for Chicago."

Pietrangelo said it was hard not to spot his teammate.

"I heard him scream. I didn't know if it was English or Russian or what it was," Pietrangelo joked. "I knew he wanted the puck. 

"Kid can shoot the puck. He's an offensive player ... it's good to see him back."

The Blues got first-period goals from Porter and Kevin Shattenkirk, who also had two assists. Miller stopped 25 shots. 

Seabrook and fellow defenseman Michal Rozsival scored third-period goals, Duncan Keith also scored for the Blackhawks, who have gotten five of six goals in the series from their defensemen. Crawford finished with 27 saves. 

Chicago trailed 2-0 before Keith's goal at 17:25 of the second period. Seabrook tied the game 4:53 into the third period when his one-timer from the top of the right circle caromed off Porter's stick and beat Miller high to the short side. 

Rozsival gave Chicago its first lead 1:45 later when his shot from the right point deflected off Backes and past Miller.

At that point, the Blackhawks were feeling like they can get the series back to home ice tied 1-1. It was not meant to be.

"The other game was tough; it was tough losing with a buck and change," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said in reference to the Blues tying Game 1 with 1:45 remaining. "But tonight was brutal.

"Did a great job killing, outstanding job, and you’re right there, six seconds away."  

Chicago finally took advantage and snapped Miller's shutout streak going back to Game 1 at 119:27 on Keith's point shot that got through a screen with 2:35 left in the second to cut the Blues' lead to 2-1. After Miller allowed three goals on the first seven shots faced in Game 1, he stopped 53 straight shots until Keith finally solved him. 
The Blues were buzzing in the first period, even though the Blackhawks had three opportunities on the power play but failed to convert on any of them. 

The Blues' fourth line struck first in Game 2, just as it did in the series opener. Porter, who had just stepped onto the ice for a shift, picked up Jordan Leopold's shot, which was blocked by Seabrook. He stepped into a slap shot and beat Crawford high to the short side 7:08 into the first period for a 1-0 lead. Porter was a ninth-round pick of the Blackhawks in the 2003 NHL Draft.

"Yeah, it was a big goal at that time of the game," Porter said. "It felt nice to get the money off my back. 

"I feel I've had some good chances as of late, but I'm just glad to find the back of the net and contribute any way I can."

Chicago's power play was given ample opportunities to cash in, but the Blues' penalty kill, after allowing a power-play goal on the first attempt in the series, clamped down on all three first-period attempts. 

At the end of the first, the Blues were buzzing around Chicago's goal, and Shattenkirk's blast from inside the blue line beat Crawford with 1.8 seconds left after a scramble in front in which the Chicago goalie made a great glove save on Jaden Schwartz with 6.2 seconds left. But Schwartz regained the puck below the goal line after being stopped and got it back to the point. With time running out, Shattenkirk wound up and beat Crawford, who was scrambling to get back in position. 
(St. Louis Blues/Mark Buckner)
Blues teammates (from left) Jaden Schwartz, Alex Pietrangelo and T.J.
Oshie react to Vladimir Tarasenko's tying goal with 6.4 seconds left in the 
third period. The Blues won 4-3 in overtime.

Earlier in the period, Shattenkirk rang a shot off the post. Alexander Steen in the second period was given a breakaway and fired a shot off the crossbar with 14:20 left. 

"I remember as the puck went into the corner, I saw 10 seconds (left)," Shattenkirk said. "I remember when the pass came out to Vladi and kind of went through him, I just remember seeing Crawford'snumber and his name and he was facing the corner. He was way out of position and I knew  that I just had to get the puck to the net. I just settled it and tried to rip it as hard as I could. I knew where I had to put it and I just have it all I had. Luckily it beats the buzzer."

The Blues had their turns on the power play early in the second period, including a 27-second stretch of 5-on-3. They also failed to convert on three power plays in the period.

But after their captain left the game, the Blues remained composed and go to Chicago in good shape.

"I think calm down and start to play again," Hitchcock said. "I thought we played our best hockey in the first period and then we played great in the overtime. I thought the overtime we were outstanding. we needed to just calm down and start playing again."

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