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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.

The Hawks were within 1 minute, 45 seconds of seizing home-ice advantage in the best-of-seven series when Jaden Schwartz scored to tie it up and Alexander Steen eventually notched the game-winner :26 into the third OT to help the Blues snap a six-game losing skid that ended the regular season.

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.

stats_logo_400x225* Chicago went 20-4-4 in its first 28 games of the season – second best of any NHL club through November 30 – but including two straight setbacks to end the year, went 26-17-11 in the last 54 tilts of 2013-14. The Blackhawks have recorded 100+ points four times in the last six seasons.

* The Blues stumbled into the playoffs, losing six straight games to end the regular season, scoring no more than two goals in each of those setbacks. St. Louis is one of just three teams all-time to enter the postseason on a 6+ game losing streak [1992-93 Sabres (7 straight losses) and the 1983-84 Canadiens (6 straight losses) are the others].
* St. Louis won the first three matches with Chicago in 2013-14, but the Blackhawks took the last two meetings, both of which were played at United Center. Chicago is 12-1-2 in its last 15 home games against the Blues.
* The Blues and Blackhawks are facing each other in the postseason for the 11th time overall, and the first time since the 2002 Conference Quarterfinals. St. Louis has faced Chicago more than any other team in its history (291 times in the regular season and 341 times including postseason).
* Marian Hossa lit the lamp once in Chicago’s season finale, giving him 30 goals in 2013-14 – his first 30+ marker season since 2008-09 when he was with the Red Wings, and the eighth of his career overall. Hossa has played in 97 postseason games since 2007-08 – most of any NHL player during that span.
* Alexander Steen led the Blues in both goals (33) and points (62) this season, despite missing 14 games due to various injuries. Steen had two goals in three skates against the Blackhawks during the 2013-14 regular season.
* No team has won back-to-back Stanley Cups since the 1997 and 1998 Red Wings. The Blackhawks have won two of the last four Cups (also 2010).

Blackhawks begin series with Blues on Thursday in St. Louis

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* The Blackhawks have earned at least a point in seven of their last eight games against the Capitals (5-1-0-2). Chicago has scored 11 goals in their last two games in the series, both wins.

* The Capitals have won three games in a row after losing their previous five contests. Their playoff hopes ended Wednesday when Columbus and Detroit clinched the last two berths in the East. Before this season, Washington last missed the playoffs in 2006-07.

* Former Blackhawks’ winger Troy Brouwer has a career-high 25 goals and 43 points for Washington this season. He has three multi-goal games since March 16, including two goals in the Capitals’ 5-2 win last night at Carolina.

* Blackhawks’ netminder Corey Crawford hasn’t allowed more than three goals since January 22, and has a 13-8-2 record with a 1.82 goals-against average and .930 save percentage during this span.

* Chicago’s 3-2 win over Montreal on Wednesday was their first all season in the five-minute overtime period; they had lost their previous seven this season. The Blackhawks are 6-8 this season in shootouts.

* Alex Ovechkin enters the final two games tied with Nicklas Backstrom for the team lead in points with 77. Ovechkin has been the solo leader of the Capitals in points every season of his career dating back to 2005-06.

Kane On-Schedule for Playoff Return

stats_logo_400x225* Montreal defeated Detroit, 5-3, at Bell Centre on Saturday, recording its second straight and seventh win in the last eight games in the process. The Canadiens are 10-2-0 (.833) in their 12 contests – best of any team in the league since March 15.
* The Blackhawks beat the Blues, 4-2, at United Center on Sunday, and have now won three straight games overall. Chicago is 29-0-4 when netting at least four goals this season (16-19-11 when scoring fewer than four times).
* The Habs beat the Blackhawks, 2-1, in overtime at Bell Centre the first time these clubs met in 2013-14 (January 11). Montreal hasn’t won a game in Chicago in over 12 years (lost three straight since 3-2 victory on February 27, 2002).
* Max Pacioretty lit the lamp once Saturday, giving him nine goals and 12 points in his last eight games. With 39 markers in 2013-14, Pacioretty (0g, 2a in three career games vs. Chicago) is one shy of becoming the first Montreal skater to record 40 goals in a season since Vincent Damphousse had 40 in 1993-94.
* Jeremy Morin had a goal and a helper in Sunday’s win, recording the first multi-point game of his career, and garnering first-star accolades for his performance. Morin has skated against the Habs once in his career (0 points, 1 SOG).
* Chicago is 23-1-2 (.923) when leading after the first period this season – tied with Nashville for best in the league. Montreal is 35-0-3 (.961) when taking a lead into the third period in 2013-14 (3rd best in the NHL).

Toews Will Miss Final Six Games of Regular Season

stats_logo_400x225* Minnesota has taken three of the first four meetings (3-1-0) with Chicago this season. The Wild hope to join Colorado (4-1-0) as the only teams to beat the Blackhawks four times in 2013-14.

* The Wild have won back to back games for the first time since March 3. With 89 points, Minnesota sits as the No. 7 seed in the Western Conference, four points ahead of Dallas and Phoenix.

* The Blackhawks have lost three consecutive games for the first time since February 2012. Chicago is now just one game over .500 (13-12-7) since January 5.

* With his 3-2 victory on Monday, Wild goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov still hasn’t lost in regulation since January 27 (includes four starts with Edmonton). He’s 6-0-4 since then with a 2.08 GAA.

* With a goal and an assist on Monday, Mikko Koivu extended his scoring streak to six games. And in eight games since March 18, Koivu leads all skaters with 10 assists, while his 12 points are tied for the second most in the league (Gustav Nyquist, 13).

* Jonathan Toews will reportedly miss the rest of the regular season with an upper-body injury. Chicago is 13-7-4 (.625) without Toews in the lin

stats_logo_400x225* The Blackhawks, who have won three straight games against the Senators, have never won four straight against the Senators.
* The Blackhawks have been shut out twice over their last three games, after being shut out just once over their previous 138 games.
* The Senators do not have a single regulation victory over their last eight games (1-4-3 – shootout win vs. Lightning on Monday).
* Only the Avalanche and Blues (both five) have more 20-goal scorers than the Blackhawks and Senators have (both four) this season.
* With his goal against the Panthers on Tuesday, Clarke MacArthur has set a new career high in goals with 22 (21 in 2010-11).
* Marian Hossa, who spent seven seasons in Ottawa (1997-98  2003-04) is fourth in Senators history with 188 goals scored. At the same time, Hossa has dished out 18 assists over his 16 career games against his former club.

stats_logo_400x225* Chicago defeated Dallas, 4-2, at United Center on Tuesday, and has now won three of its last four games overall (all at home). The Blackhawks have dropped four of their last five road tilts (1-3-1 record), scoring two or fewer times in each of those contests.

* The Bruins lost, 2-1, in a shootout with Montreal at TD Garden on Monday, snapping their 12-game winning streak in the process. The B’s win streak was their longest since a 13-gamer in 1971, and the third-longest in franchise history overall (won 14 straight in 1929-30).
* The Blackhawks took the first meeting of the season with the Bruins, 3-2, in a shootout at United Center on January 19. Dating to the beginning of 2007-08, Boston has won three of the last four tilts with Chicago at TD Garden.
* Duncan Keith had a goal and an assist Tuesday, garnering first-star honors for his performance. Keith has lit the lamp three times in his last five skates after netting just three goals in his first 67 games of 2013-14.
* Patrice Bergeron scored the Bruins’ lone goal Monday, giving him 23 markers on the season – the second-highest single-season total of his career (31 in 2005-06). Bergeron has lit the lamp in a career-high four straight games.
* With 49 triumphs on the season, Boston is looking to win at least 50 games for the first time since posting 53 victories in 2008-09, and the ninth time in franchise history overall.

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