Thursday, April 24, 2014

Kane's OT goal evens series against Blues

Game-winner gave Blackhawks 4-3 victory, sets up a pivotal Game 5 in St. Louis

CHICAGO -- For the third time in four games of the Western Conference First Round series between the Blues and Chicago Blackhawks, 60 minutes wasn't enough to decide a winner.

The score was the same, but this time, the Blackhawks were left celebrating and turned this best-of-7 series into a best-of-3.

Patrick Kane's second goal of the game 11 minutes 17 seconds into overtime gave the Blackhawks a 4-3 victory, evening the series 2-2, with each team holding serve on home ice.

Game 5 is set for Friday at 7 p.m. at Scottrade Center.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Blues defenseman Roman Polak (left) battles Blackhawks forward Patrick
Sharp for a loose puck Wednesday night in Game 4.

The play developed in the Blackhawks zone when Patrik Berglund, instead of shooting the puck from the bottom of the right circle, tried to feed a backhand into a crowded slot and Chris Porter. Ben Smith picked the pass off and fed Kane, who took off on an odd-man rush with Kevin Shattenkirk fending off Kane, Brandon Saad and Smith.

Shattenkirk backed up, gave Kane time and space and he beat Ryan Miller short side.

It was a game in which the Blues trailed 2-0 late in the second, tied it with two goals in 1:05 and grabbed the lead with 7:34 remaining.

"We knew we were going to get a push (early)," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "Where the game was lost was when we took it over and were up 3-2 and we missed those four chances. We could have been up 4- or 5-2. We left it out there, got caught in our zone and then on the overtime goal, we had chances to shoot the puck three times in the zone and didn't put it on the net. Wanted to stick-handle one more time."

Shattenkirk said he saw teammates Barret Jackman and Porter trying to get back in the play but felt like he needed to defend the pass on the odd-man rush.

"I just hopped on the ice and they had a quick transition, turned the puck over, came down, saw a 2-on-1 at first and then tried to play it as a 2-on-1," Shattenkirk said. "I just gave them too much time. 

"(Kane's) a skilled player so I know he can make that pass. You've got to wait to give your teammates time to get back. They did a good job of it. I have to challenge the shooter for Ryan. (Kane) just did a good job of being patient using his speed and then pulling up and creating space for himself to shoot. I just have to create a better gap there and get a stick on it."

Miller, who stopped 30 shots, was beat on the short side. However, he gave up those four goals on the final 21 shots he faced.

"Kane set it up well," Miller said. "He got the middle of the ice. He got Shattenkirk in between me and the puck. It wasn't ideal for us and guys working back to cover the backside who did a good job getting back. The 2-on-1 was what we thought it would be and he made a nice play."

Down 2-0, the Blues rallied with three unanswered goals to take the lead.

Tarasenko's second of the night and fourth in the series gave the Blues a 3-2 lead with 7:34 left to play when he whipped a short-side shot off Crawford's glove and off the right post.

"Exceptional," Hitrchcock said describing Tarasenko. "He's been a great player every game. Young, emerging player. Hopefully he stays with it and helps us a lot. He's really shooting the puck well. He's putting pucks on net. He's not making the second or third play. Everything's coming at the net. He's got such a great shot. He can pick corners like he did today."

But the Blackhawks, desperate to get the tying goal, got it from Bickell when he redirected Michal Rozsival's shot from the right point past Miller with 3:52 to play to tie the game 3-3.

The Blackhawks grabbed all the momentum by scoring twice in the second to go up 2-0, getting a power play goal from Andrew Shaw 8:40 into the period and a one-timer from Kane at 16:09.

But Tarasenko's third goal of the series, after Kane was whistled for delay of game, snapped the Blues' scoring drought at 98:51 with a short-side power play goal with 1:09 left. Then Lapierre scored with 3.1 seconds left after he kept a Patrick Sharp clearing attempt in the zone, got it back from a diving play by Steve Ott and snapped a shot off the right post, Crawford's back and in to tie it 2-2. The Blues' goals came in a span of 1:05.

The Blues now have three goals in this series inside 10 seconds to play in a period and five goals from 1:45 left in a period.

"I think we knew we were," Hitchcock said of the momentum build off the end of the second period. "And then to score the third goal and really, their tying goal was the only chance they had. To have all those chances after that was something we needed. It's just unfortunate. I know kind of know how Joel (Quenneville) feels. Tit for tat." 

If it wasn't a reminder to the Blues after Game 3 that this first round series is playing out exactly like the one in which they lost to the Los Angeles Kings last season, the final score in Game 4 (the same as Game 4 against the Kings), should be a stark reminder. 

The Blues lost 3-2 on home ice in Game 5 (the only home loss for either team in the series), then lost Game 6 in L.A. 

"We knew it was going to be a tough battle and I think we're right where we want to be," Lapierre said. "We won our two games at home, came here and played good hockey, and now we've got to focus, regroup and play good in St. Louis again." 

But before they do that, Hitchcock and his coaching staff will have a good talk with the players. 
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Alex Pietrangelo (left) tries to move the puck past Blackhawks' Brandon
Saad (20) Wednesday night.

"I think we're up to it, but we're going to have a little bit of a heart-to-heart, get back on our toes again," Hitchcock said. "The way we played in the second and third period was really good, and that's what we've got to get back to as much as we can. 

"They got the momentum now. We've got to take it back. We've got two of three at home, but we've got to take the momentum back. These have been two really hard-fought games here. This is a momentum-builder for them and we've got to find a way to regroup and take it back from them. That's a big challenge for us."

"We knew it was going to be like this," Steen said. "It's hard fought games. It's even higher tempo and more pace than the games in the regular season versus these guys."

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