ST. LOUIS — Buckle up, Blackhawks fans, this has the makings of some kind of thrill ride.
Trailing by a goal late to the defending Stanley Cup champions, the Blues rallied for a 4-3 victory over the Hawks in triple overtime in Game 1 of the first round of the playoffs Thursday night at Scottrade Center.
In a game that pretty much had everything from highlight-reel goals to crunching hits to acrobatic saves, the Blues drew first blood—literally—in the series that will continue with Game 2 on Saturday afternoon in St. Louis.
Adam Cracknell and Vladimir Tarasenko also found the back of the net for St. Louis while goaltender Ryan Miller out-dueled Corey Crawford to earn the victory.
Brent Seabrook had a goal and an assist, Patrick Kane and Johnny Oduya scored and Jonathan Toews added two assists for the Hawks but it wasn’t enough.
It was a breakneck pace from opening puck drop and the crowd of 19,423 roared with every check and missed opportunity. The Blues stayed true to form and hit everything that moved to control the pace early on.
Cracknell opened the scoring when banged in a rebound of a Chris Porter shot but Oduya answered when the defenseman controlled the puck, took advantage of open ice to move into the left circle and ripped a shot that Miller got a piece of but watched as it trickled across the line.
The Hawks cashed in on a power play and short time later when Kris Versteeg showed great patience with the puck as he skated behind the Hawks net with his head up. The winger eventually found Seabrook pinching in and fed the defenseman with a pass and Seabrook fired it past Miller with a one-timer.
The Blues tied it at 2-2 on Tarasenko’s score and then Kane and Toews worked their magic to swing the momentum toward the Hawks.
When the dust had settled on the wild first period, the Hawks had scored three goals on seven shots against Miller, who was brought in by the Blues via trade with the Sabres to provide stability in situations just like Thursday night.
The second period was quite a bit more low-key as neither team found the back of the net. The Hawks’ defense was particularly stingy as it held the Blues to just three shots on goal. Two of them, however, were excellent scoring chances but Crawford came up big with stops on Tarasenko and Steve Ott, respectively.
The Hawks were closing in on the win when Schwartz chipped in a backhander in the waning seconds.
The overtimes were a roller-coaster ride, including when the Hawks’ Kris Versteeg beat Miller with a shot but Blues teammate Maxim Lapierre made the save while down in the crease. In the second OT, Miller stoned Patrick Sharp on a breakaway.
Twice Hawks captain Jonathan Toews was doubled-over in pain on the bench, and once had to have blood stopped flowing from his nose following a hit from the Blues’ Ryan Reaves.
Steen ended it when he flipped in a shot from in close to end the longest game in Blues history.