Chicago Blackhawks: Nhl
Van Riemsdyk, then a junior defenseman at the University of New Hampshire, was checked into the boards by an opponent and his left ankle bent in the wrong direction as he fell to the ice.
The pain told him immediately something was wrong, but what he saw in the shape of his ankle shortly later made him fearful he would never get a chance to live out his dream of playing in the NHL.
“Yeah, definitely crosses your mind when you’re lying on the trainer’s table and your ankle is the size of a softball. It ended up working for the best.”
Van Riemsdyk was able to share his story Monday easier than he would have earlier in the year, because his left ankle has recovered and he’s begun his path to the NHL.
He signed a two-year deal with the Chicago Blackhawks after his college season ended in March, and is participating in the Blackhawks prospect camp in Chicago this week.
Van Riemsdyk, who is the younger brother of Toronto Maple Leafs forward James van Riemsdyk, had other options when he hit the free-agency market in March.
He wouldn’t disclose the other teams that were interested in him, but they likely presented a quicker road to the NHL than the Blackhawks, who are deep at defenseman throughout the organization. Yet, he was sold on what the Blackhawks offered him.
“I kind of looked at it [as] you might not see it as [that] quick of a track, but it’s a great organization,” van Riemsdyk said. “The style they play as far as puck possession is something I like and fits my game real well. That kind of went into it majorly and how I came to my decision.
“I’m sure you would like to be [in the NHL] right away, but you want to make sure you’re ready when you get there. If you’re there before you’re ready, you don’t want to mess it up or leave a bad taste in people’s mouths saying maybe he won’t ever be ready or stuff like that. You want to be ready before you get there, and I think this organization does a good job of getting you where you need to be.”
Van Riemsdyk turned to his older brother for advice, but he felt he was given room to make his own decision. That’s one of the reasons why van Riemsdyk respects his older brother and never saw it as a burden to be the younger brother of an NHL player.
“You get that a lot just growing up, whether it’s on the ice or people asking you off it about whether you’re in the shadow or whatever,” said van Riemsdyk, who will turn 23 on July 24. “However you want to look at it, he’s a good guy to be in his shadow or not.
“He’s always done things the right way. He’s never got into any trouble. He’s worked hard. He’s had a good career. If I’m going to be in somebody’s shadow, I guess his isn’t a bad one.”
At the same time, van Riemsdyk would like to create his own career.
“I’ve always worked to make my own path at UNH and have my own accomplishments and not just being James’ brother,” van Riemsdyk said. “He’s led a good way, and I’ve kind of followed it and added my achievements along the way.”
Van Riemsdyk, who is 6-foot-2 and 185 pounds, is known for his offensive ability as a defenseman. He had 75 points, including 16 goals and 59 assists, in 102 games at New Hampshire. He was a first-team All-American after his sophomore year.
ESPN NHL Draft and Prospects analyst Corey Pronman described van Riemsdyk as a “good puck mover who excels on the power play, but his skating and defense are just ok.”
Van Riemsdyk hoped to impress the Blackhawks’ personnel and gain some knowledge throughout the weeklong prospect camp. He described it as an opportunity to be a “sponge.”
The week also presents him a chance to really test his ankle against other top players.
“It’s been a while since I’ve been in an ultracompetitive situation like this, pretty much since January when I hurt it,” van Riemsdyk said. “It’s a good kind of shock to the system to get back in there.”
That wouldn’t be a problem for most Chicago-area teenagers. They would pick a high school that offered both sports and everything would be just fine.
For Belpedio, who grew up in Skokie, Illinois, it wasn’t so simple.
He already had shown some promise as a defenseman in hockey. And to give his dream of someday playing in the NHL a real chance, the best option was the most difficult one. He had to leave home, forego joining all his neighborhood friends at the same high school, put an end to his football career and dedicate himself to hockey.
Belpedio chose that path and is expected to be rewarded for it on Friday or Saturday during the NHL draft. He is projected to be selected as early as the second round this weekend in Philadelphia.
“I was either going to go to Niles West [High School] or Fenwick,” Belpedio said recently after training at the Fox Valley Ice Arena in Geneva, Illinois. “If I played high school hockey, I would have played football, as well. Sometimes I miss it. I miss football when I watch it. I’m happy with my decision. I love hockey.
“As a 14-year-old kid, moving away wasn’t the easiest thing. Once I got used to that, I had no regrets about it. It was hard the first month or so. It’s something you got to do if you want to move on to the next level.”
Belpedio opted to move out of state and attend Culver Military Academy in Culver, Indiana. He had access to an ice rink whenever he wanted and utilized it by dedicating himself to his game. After two years at Culver, he earned a spot in the USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program and has spent the past two years developing his game there. He is committed to Miami (Ohio).
Belpedio helped his draft stock by playing well and showcasing his versatile game for the United States in the Under-18 World Junior Championship in Finland in April. He had two assists and was a plus-3 in seven games. ESPN NHL Draft and Prospects analyst Corey Pronman has him ranked No. 59 among available draft prospects.
Belpedio will attend the draft at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia on Friday and Saturday. He’s tried not to allow his mind to wander to what it would be like to have his named called at the draft, but he’s failed to do so.
“I actually think about it a lot,” said Belpedio, whose family adviser is Chicago-based Pete Rutili. “As much as I try not to, it’s hard not to think about it. That’s a dream to get drafted, but the overall goal is to play in the NHL and not just get drafted. That’s just the beginning of a long road.”
If Belpedio could write his own script, he would not only get drafted but would get taken by his favorite team, the Chicago Blackhawks. He is quite aware Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman has selected a number of Chicago-area players. In the past three drafts, Bowman has drafted Ryan Hartman, Anthony Louis, Vincent Hinostroza and Alex Broadhurst, who all grew up in the Chicago area.
“That would be great to get drafted, you know, hometown kid,” said Belpedio, who has attended Blackhawks games throughout his life. “I think a lot of kids think about that when it comes their time to get drafted. I definitely thought about it. I would be happy to get my name called at all.”
CHICAGO -- It says something when Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane has four assists and he would prefer to talk about Brandon Saad.
That was the case Wednesday, as Saad put together one of the most complete games of his young NHL career and the Blackhawks stayed alive in the Western Conference finals.
Saad was a major factor for the Blackhawks in their 5-4 double-overtime triumph against the Los Angeles Kings that reduced the series deficit to 3-2.
“Personally, I thought Saad was the best player on the ice tonight,” Kane said. “He was bringing so much speed and puck protection. He was awesome tonight.”
So what got into Saad?
He didn’t want his season to end so soon.
“That’s something you want to leave it all on the ice,” Saad said. “We had a good team game and stuck together throughout the whole thing.”
That Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville stuck with the line of Saad, Andrew Shaw and Kane for much of the game also benefited the squad. Shaw had two assists and was a plus-3, and Kane had four assists and was a plus-3.
Kane had just a single point in the conference finals prior to Wednesday, and Shaw had none.
Saad could feel that line clicking throughout the game.
“We had a big night,” Saad said. “It feels good to get the offense going. We have to keep getting better because it’s going to keep getting tougher. We’ve got some chemistry in the past. I think we came out flying and working hard tonight.
“We have skill on our line. If we work hard, the rest is going to take care of itself.”
Quenneville doesn’t use them often, but he has a couple of favorite adjectives when he’s really impressed by a performance. He used one in speaking about Saad on Wednesday.
“I thought he had a special night,” Quenneville said. “He had a lot of speed. You look at Shawsy's contribution, Kaner's contribution, it was one of those nights where everything fell in there nicely.”
CHICAGO -- Michal Handzus hasn’t been oblivious to his own play for the Chicago Blackhawks throughout the playoffs this season.
Handzus knows he’s been subpar. After producing 11 points, a plus-7 rating and providing the Blackhawks with a stable second-line center in the playoffs last season, Handzus has been nearly the opposite this season.
He entered Game 5 of the Western Conference finals against the Los Angeles Kings with two points, a minus-6 and having often been among the team’s worst possession players in 16 playoff games this season.
All of that bothered Handzus at some level, but he made sure it didn’t bother him when he was on the ice. The 37-year-old veteran has been around long enough to know the worst thing a player can do is wallow in self-pity.
Handzus kept his head up.
Handzus knew the goal didn’t make up for all of his previous performances, but he was pleased to produce when he could.
“Obviously I’m glad I came through,” Handzus said. “It’s only one game. I know I got to get better. Hopefully it helps me.
“You still have to have a lot of confidence in yourself. Like I said, I’m not really happy how I played. Just got to be confident. It’s a lot of fun to be playing in the playoffs. It’s the conference finals. You can’t just look at yourself all the time and be down and be disappointed. You just got to be positive.
“If you won’t be positive, you probably won’t get out of the slump or anything. I stayed positive. I’m a better player than I showed. I’ll try to show it the next game, too.”
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville had recently gone away from playing Handzus consistently. Handzus played only 2:52 of even-strength ice time in Game 4 and was on the lower end of even-strength ice time at 11:24 in Game 5. Quenneville also moved him from the second line to the third line.
Despite reducing Handzus’ minutes, Quenneville has voiced his support for Handzus and was glad No. 26 delivered on Wednesday.
“He's a smart player,” Quenneville said. “Penalty killing is his strength. [Andrew Shaw] has been playing a lot. Was half a shift left, I threw [Handzus] out there. He didn't play much in overtime, but what a great finish. Happy for him, excited about our team.”
Handzus’ teammates felt the same for him. They have a lot of respect for him regardless of his numbers.
“He's a warrior,” Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane said. “He comes to play every night and does whatever he can to be in the lineup, whether he's injured or not. We’d seen that last year with the amount of injuries he had, how he brought something every night. He had some huge goals in last year's playoffs.
“We know he's capable of scoring those big goals. Probably none bigger than tonight with the game on the line. I knew he has a great backhand. It was a great shot by him. I'm sure he's happy about that one, as well as the team.”
CHICAGO -- Here’s a quick look at the Chicago Blackhawks’ 5-4 double-overtime win over the Los Angeles Kings in Game 5 of the Western Conference finals at the United Center on Wednesday:
How it happened: Michal Handzus scored the winner off a pass from Brandon Saad at 2:04 in the second overtime. The Blackhawks forced the first overtime when Ben Smith scored the lone goal in the third period at 1:13. The Kings had built a 4-3 lead after finding themselves two goals behind in the first period. After the Blackhawks went up 3-1 in the first period, the Kings responded with three consecutive goals, one in the first period and two in the second period. Marian Gaborik, Dustin Brown and Tanner Pearson scored the three goals for the Kings. The Blackhawks got the start they wanted, scoring twice in the first four minutes. Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook scored a power-play goal at 1:13, and Johnny Oduya knocked in a rebound from a Patrick Kane shot at 3:40. Jarret Stoll gave the Kings their first goal at 9:40, but less than two minutes later the Blackhawks responded as Saad put them back ahead 3-1. Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford made 41 saves on 45 shots. Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick stopped 40 of 45 shots.
What it means: The Blackhawks held off elimination and cut the Kings’ series lead to 3-2. The Blackhawks were given a scare as the Kings erased their two-goal lead and pulled ahead of them after two periods, but the Blackhawks, especially Crawford, stepped up when they needed to in the game. Crawford didn’t allow a goal after the Kings scored at 13:08 of the second period. The Blackhawks also bounced back after struggling on special teams in the past few games. They scored a power-play goal for the first time in three games and shut out the Kings’ power play for the first time since Game 1. The Blackhawks’ second line of Saad-Andrew Shaw-Kane was a force most of the game.
Player of the game: Saad was all over the ice for the Blackhawks. He had one goal, two assists, seven shots on net, three hits, three takeaways, two blocked shots, was a plus-4 and won 4 of 8 faceoffs.
Stat of the game: Crawford stopped 19 shots over the last three periods.
What’s next: The series returns to Los Angeles for Game 6 at 8 p.m. CT on Friday. The Kings defeated the Blackhawks in Games 3 and 4 in Los Angeles and are 5-3 at home in the playoffs this season.
One of the areas Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville addressed with his team after its loss to the Los Angeles Kings in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals was faceoffs.
The Kings won the puck from the Blackhawks in Game 2 more than any opponent has done in the playoffs this season. The Kings won 43 of 70 faceoffs, giving the Blackhawks a 38.6 winning percentage. The Blackhawks had entered the game with a 51.1 winning percentage in the playoffs.
“We looked at it,” Quenneville said prior to Game 3 on Saturday. “We talked about it as a group, particularly the guys who take draws. We're facing one of the best teams in the league in that area. They all got experience. They all are very effective at it as well.
“Especially on the road, when we've got to go down first, the heightened awareness of just our centermen, the guys on the wall, helping out in that area. Trying to get it closer to 50-50 is what we're looking at.”
The Blackhawks kept the faceoff at exactly 50 percent in Game 1. The Blackhawks won 31 faceoffs, and the Kings won 31.
The difference in Game 2? Some of the Blackhawks who had success in the first game at the dot didn’t repeat it. Blackhawks center Michal Handzus won 12 of 20 faceoffs in Game 1 and was 4-of-16 in Game 2. Jonathan Toews was 11-of-18 in Game 1 and dropped to 11-of-25 in Game 2. Peter Regin struggled in both games and was a combined 4-of-22.
“That's something we need to focus on,” Toews said. “Clearly, we weren't good enough last game. We'll work at it tonight and make sure not only our centermen, but wingers are ready to jump in and be better in that area tonight.”
Kings forward Jarret Stoll has given the Blackhawks the most trouble. He’s won 24 of 35 faceoffs in the series. Anze Kopitar (24-of-41), Mike Richards (18-of-32) and Jeff Carter (6-of-20) also have taken faceoffs for the Kings.
The Blackhawks and Kings were two of the best teams at faceoffs in the regular season. The Kings were tied for second with a 52.8 winning percentage, and the Blackhawks were fifth at 52 percent.
CHICAGO -- Here’s a quick look at the Los Angeles Kings’ 6-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals at the United Center on Wednesday.
How it happened: The Kings rallied from a 2-0 deficit to score six consecutive goals to beat the Blackhawks. The Kings began their comeback in the second period, when Justin Williams scored in front of the net at 18:14. The Kings turned to their power play to score the next two goals. Jeff Carter scored on a power play at 1:37, and Carter capitalized on another Blackhawks’ penalty when he scored a power-play goal at 4:04. The Kings added two more goals with Tyler Toffoli scoring at 8:59 and Carter at 14:44. Carter finished off his hat trick with an empty-net goal. The Blackhawks built a 2-0 lead behind a power-play goal by Nick Leddy in the first period and a goal by Ben Smith in the second period. The Blackhawks were 1-for-4 on the power play, and the Kings were 2-for-4. Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick stopped 23-of-25 shots. Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford had 25 saves on 30 shots.
What it means: The Kings evened the series 1-1. The Kings gave the Blackhawks their first loss at home in the playoffs. The Blackhawks had won their first seven home playoff games. The Blackhawks’ penalty kill had allowed just four goals over the first 13 games of the playoffs. They were 44-of-48 on the penalty kill coming into the game. Quick kept the Kings in the game when the Blackhawks had multiple quality chances in the first two periods. He’s allowed a total of 13 goals in the Kings’ nine playoff wins.
Player of the game: Carter scored a hat trick in the third period.
Stat of the game: The Kings won 43-of-70 faceoffs.
What’s next: The series moves to Los Angeles for Games 3 and 4. Game 3 will be at Staples Center at 7 p.m. CT on Saturday. The Kings are 3-3 at home in the playoffs.
Of all those players, Brandon Saad has been the one forward who has clicked best with Kane.
Kane registered 16 points on seven goals and nine assists with Saad in 5-on-5 situations this season. It’s the most points Kane has had with any forward since the 2011-12 season, according to stats.hockeyanalysis.com.
Quenneville reunited Saad and Kane during the second period against the Los Angeles Kings in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals. It appears Quenneville will continue with the duo on the same line Wednesday.
Quenneville explained prior to Game 2 why he liked having Kane and Saad together.
“They both got speed, skill, patience with the puck [and] play recognition,” Quenneville said after the team’s morning skate. “They're a threat off the rush. In zone, they utilize all five guys pretty well, four guys. Just gives us some balance on lines. We'll see how that plays out.”
Kane and Saad were on the ice together for the Blackhawks’ second goal in Game 1 on Sunday. Saad set up Duncan Keith for a goal just after Quenneville switched Patrick Sharp and Saad on lines in the second period.
Saad thought he and Kane complemented each other and that he understood how to play with Kane.
“I’m pretty comfortable playing with him,” Saad said. “He likes to play with the puck a lot. I think just working hard and getting open for him and finding space because he’s going to create that space for you. I think we’ve had some pretty good success in the past, regardless of who our center was.
“It’s only a matter of time before we build our chemistry and keep going upwards.”
Toews was ineffective in Game 4 of the second-round series against the Minnesota Wild on Friday. He had a season-worst 27.6 Corsi percentage; the Blackhawks had eight shots for and 21 shots against with him on the ice in 5-on-5 situations, according to extraskater.com. He was also held without a point and had a minus-1 rating.
Just a game later, the Wild couldn’t contain Toews.
One game removed from his worst performance of the season, captain Jonathan Toews delivered one of his best efforts -- and the winning goal -- to give the Blackhawks a 3-2 series edge over the Wild.
One of those shots came when he battled in front of the net for a puck, and he was able to knock it in. The goal proved to be the winner in the Blackhawks’ 2-1 triumph in Game 5. It was his fourth game winner of the playoffs and spotted the Blackhawks a 3-2 advantage in the series.
Toews’ teammates used a variety of adjectives to describe his play.
“He’s unbelievable,” forward Marian Hossa said. “That’s why he’s a superstar. He’s a great leader on and off the ice, and he finds a way to score big goals. Tonight was a great example.
“He goes hard to the net and we had the puck there and then put it in the net.”
Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford agreed.
“An amazing goal,” Crawford said. “They play hard defensively; they box out pretty good. We need to get pucks and bodies to the net and score on rebounds or screen shots. Battle in front of the net, and that’s what Jon did. A great goal right there.
“He’s done it a bunch of times, so many you tend to forget a little bit. He’s definitely relentless, and scores in so many different ways he’s hard to stop. Our best players have been that way throughout these playoffs and, again tonight, he got us a big goal when we needed it.”
Aside from having their crowd behind them, the Blackhawks also had the advantage of having last change on lines while at home. Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville used that Sunday to keep Toews away from matching up with Wild forward Mikko Koivu and his line.
Koivu and his line matched up a bulk of the time against Toews in Games 3 and 4 in Minnesota and limited his chances. Toews only faced Koivu about three minutes on Sunday and was often up against Zach Parise, Jason Pominville and Mikael Granlund in Game 5.
“We’ve had the matchup here,” Quenneville said. “We’ll see what happens there.”
Quenneville thought Toews’ play improved as the game went on. He also believed putting him together with Patrick Sharp and Hossa brought the best out of him.
“I thought he had some pucks around the net,” Quenneville said of Toews. “They sustained some pucks. I thought he was better as the game progressed. That line’s got some top players, and it’s an important line for us and important shifts for us. They scored the big goal for us, as well.”
Regin was inserted into the Blackhawks’ lineup for Game 5 against the Wild on Sunday after being a healthy scratch for the team’s first 10 playoff games.
The pressure could have been a lot to handle, so Regin first attacked the challenge from a mental standpoint.
That he did.
Regin showed no signs of having not played since April 12 and was an instant factor for the Blackhawks on Sunday. His biggest contribution came when he drove to the net in the second period and forced Wild defenseman Jonas Brodin to hook him from behind to break up a point-blank scoring attempt. The Blackhawks capitalized on the power play for their first goal of the game and went on to win 2-1 and take a 3-2 series lead.
Regin also helped the Blackhawks become a four-line team again.
Chicago coach Joel Quenneville had lost confidence in his whole lineup in recent games and had predominately played three lines. With Regin, Kris Versteeg and Bryan Bickell playing well together, Quenneville was able to utilize all four of his lines on Sunday.
“I thought he came in and gave us a good presence there,” Quenneville said of Regin. “I thought he gave us some speed in the middle. I thought [Versteeg did], as well. That line was effective for us, gave us more balance and gave us a four-line rotation, which is all right, as well. But a good response first playoff game for us and from him. We liked what we saw.”
Regin created a few chances for the Blackhawks and was solid defensively. He had a 70 Corsi percentage. (The Blackhawks had seven shots for and three against with Regin on the ice in 5-on-5 situations.) Quenneville rewarded Regin’s effort by playing him 11:27 of even-strength ice time.
Regin didn’t want to boast about his play, but his smile after the game spoke to how he was feeling.
“I thought it went all right,” Regin said. “I was a little nervous before the game, but I tried to focus on the positive things. I’ve been rested and tried to be excited instead of being too nervous about having not played in a while.
“I tried to think positive and just go out and play, pretty much.”
Seabrook needed the Blackhawks to win twice in three games against the St. Louis Blues to give him a chance to play again this season. The Blackhawks did better than that. They won three times.
Brent Seabrook needed Chicago to win twice in three games against the Blues to give him a chance to play again this season after his Game 2 suspension. They did him one better by winning three times.
“It was tough,” Seabrook said of serving his suspension. “I can’t watch hockey. I don’t know how you guys do it. It’s tough. You’re hanging on every shot, every save, every play. You want to be out there helping the guys.
“It was obviously tough to watch it, but they did a great job and I got to play again.”
Seabrook was suspended three games for a shoulder-to-head hit on Blues forward David Backes in Game 2. Backes missed two games due to an upper-body injury. Seabrook expressed concern for Backes and apologized for the hit after Game 2.
Seabrook spoke to the media for the first time since receiving the suspension after Game 6 on Sunday.
“I didn’t like it, obviously, but I respect their decision,” Seabrook said of the suspension. “They have a tough job. They’re not just worried about myself or just worried about Backes; they’re looking at the whole thing. Really, the only thing you can ask for is they are honest and respectful.
“[Brendan Shanahan] did a good job the last three, four, five years, however long he was [with the NHL’s Department of Player Safety]. [Stephane] Quintal has taken over and the couple of suspensions he’s handed out I think he’s been doing a good job. It’s a tough job for those guys to do that. You know one side is always going to be pissed off. I just have to take it and had to try and get ready.”
Seabrook and Backes faced each other in Sunday’s game, but Seabrook said they didn't discuss the hit. Seabrook said he hoped to talk to Backes in the next few days. The players shook hands after the game.
“We haven’t talked,” Seabrook said. “I can’t say for what he thinks about me, but I’m not a player like that. I’ve been here for nine years and you guys have seen the way I play. It was not my intention. It wasn’t deliberate.
“He’s one of their best players. You want to play him tough. You want to play him hard, but you don’t want to go out there and hurt anybody. Like I said after that game, it’s tough to see anybody laying there, whether it’s your worst enemy or your best friend it’s tough to see that.”
In Quenneville’s eyes, Keith put together one of the most impressive all-around performances of his career while helping the Blackhawks to a 5-1 win and eliminating the St. Louis Blues in Game 6 of their first-round series on Sunday. Keith scored once, tallied three assists, had a plus-3 rating, contributed to killing off six penalties and led the team with 25:16 of ice time.
“So, we’re very happy for him the way he played. It was a special night for him.”
One of the first plays to put Keith on his way to his special night occurred on the Blackhawks’ first goal. Blues forward Patrik Berglund attempted to bounce the puck off the boards and get it out of the Blues’ zone in the first period. Keith grabbed the puck out of the air, placed it on the ice and kept the possession alive. Bryan Bickell scored seconds later for the Blackhawks.
Keith saved another puck from getting out of the Blues’ zone in the third period. The puck was nearly over the blue line when Keith stopped it with his stick. He gathered himself, found Jonathan Toews in the right circle and Toews scored in the slot.
Blues coach Ken Hitchcock compared Keith’s ability to deny teams from getting the puck out of their zone to what Nicklas Lidstrom used to do for the Detroit Red Wings.
“He’s got a lot of Lidstrom in him,” Hitchcock said. “Lidstrom did the same thing. You think you’re out; you’re out all right. You’re out at center ice facing off. He’s good at it.”
Keith later showed off more of his offensive ability and why he was second in points in the regular season among defensemen, with 61. The Blackhawks went ahead 4-1 when Andrew Shaw tipped in a slap shot from Keith. And Keith put the finishing touches on the win by scoring in front of the net on a pass from Shaw at 17:05.
And there was the defensive side of Keith’s game. The Blackhawks held the Blues scoreless on 10 minutes of power play in the win. Keith played 6:26 of short-handed ice time. The Blues also failed to score during his 16:22 of even-strength ice time.
Keith was happy to do his part, but he was happier the Blackhawks were moving onto the second round.
“It feels good,” Keith said. “It was a tough series. Every game was close and, even tonight, you could tell it was a close game for 50 minutes. And then we were able to separate some distance there.
“It felt good to get that momentum, and I think we did a good job of just holding on to it.
But he had a good feeling a goal was coming his way if he just continued to play as he had against the St. Louis Blues through the first four games of their series.
"I just tried to create something out there," Hossa said after the Blackhawks’ 3-2 overtime win on Friday. "Obviously, I had a couple great pucks on my sticks and tried to take a couple good shots and finally I get the rebound off my shot. I saw the net half open, and I tried to finish it.
"It’s always a great feeling, but, like I said, it doesn’t matter who scores in the playoffs as long as we win. I try to play a 200-foot game. That’s my game. But, definitely, when you score, you get that extra boost."
Hossa had done plenty of creating in the first four games, too, but just hadn't gotten the final result. He attempted 37 shots, including 21 on net, through the first four games.
On Friday, he continued to challenge Blues goaltender Ryan Miller. Hossa attempted eight shots, including a game-high seven on net. He now has a league-high 28 shots on net in the playoffs.
Hossa broke through with his goal late in the first period. Hossa put a shot on Miller from the slot, and Miller blocked it. Hossa found the puck again in front of the net and finally put it home.
"Nice to score for him," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "I thought he had the puck a lot tonight. I thought he progressed last game as the game went on. Tonight when he had the puck like that -- defensively, he does all the right things -- him with the puck, offensively, that line can be a big threat."
"The difference was I scored a goal," said Hossa, who has 44 career playoff goals. "Obviously, I had a couple great chances in games before. I didn’t, but like I said, as long as we win, it doesn’t matter who scores. That’s huge."
ST. LOUIS -- Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews wasn’t sure whether to believe his teammate Duncan Keith when it came to Keith’s intention on the winning goal in overtime against the St. Louis Blues in Game 5 of their first-round series Friday.
Blues forward David Backes had taken a shot from the right circle, and the puck bounced off Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford. Keith pounced on the puck right in front of Crawford and flung it down the ice.
Toews was skating just past center ice toward the Blackhawks’ zone when Keith saw the puck coming his way ... and not a single Blues player within a few feet. Toews stopped the puck, turned the other way and broke for the Blues’ net.
No matter how it was set up, Jonathan Toews put the finishing touches on the overtime winner in St. Louis.
Toews slipped the puck just past the edge of Miller’s left leg pad and into the right corner of the net to give the Blackhawks the 3-2 win and a 3-2 series lead.
Toews didn’t care in the end whether Keith meant to get him the puck. He didn’t know what was fact and what was fiction.
“He said he saw me,” Toews said. “He could be joking. He could be serious. I’m not sure. I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt on that play. It was a nice play to throw the puck down the ice.”
The goal wouldn’t have to become another Blackhawks mystery, though. Keith ultimately revealed the truth.
“I’m not going to give myself that much credit,” Keith said. “Maybe some guys would, I don’t know. I just try to get that out of the zone, try to clear it and get it out. Lucky break by us.
“I was trying to get the puck out of the zone, and all of a sudden it lands on his stick. Couldn’t believe it. I was pretty happy seeing that. We wouldn’t want anybody else. If we had a guy on the breakaway, it was him. He’s pretty clutch when it comes to that. Nice goal.”
Blackhawks forward Andrew Shaw also added another layer to the story of the improbable goal.
"[Keith] fired it down, it hit my leg and went to Jonny," Shaw said. "I guess the shin pad luck is back."
The Blackhawks and Blues have been responsible for creating many of their chances throughout the five-game series, but the Blackhawks didn’t pretend what factor played into the winning goal.
“We got a fortunate break,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “I just said, ‘[Duncan,] what a pass.’ We obviously know what happened. We got a break, and Jonny buried.”
Toews turned to his skill to beat Miller, but he wasn’t exactly sure what he was going to do as he skated toward the net.
“That was instinctive,” Toews said. “I’m not trying to think what I want to do there. I just try to get it moving and give my best effort.
“It just happened so fast. I jumped on the ice and got the puck. It just came right to me, and it happened to go in. The celebration: I wasn’t sure if it was real. It happened so quickly.”
CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville had his “here we go again” moment as his team was stumbling in the final minute and a half of the second period against the St. Louis Blues in Game 4 of their first-round series on Wednesday.
The Blackhawks had just minutes before put themselves in the best position they had been in during the entire series. They had built a 2-0 lead with less than four minutes remaining in the second period. With scores so difficult to come by in this series, a two-goal lead seemed nearly insurmountable in less than 25 minutes of action remaining.
The Blues obliterated that assumption quickly.
They scored twice in the final two minutes of the second period. The second goal came with 3.1 seconds remaining in the period. The Blues carried that momentum into the third period, scored a third consecutive goal and went ahead 3-2.
“We certainly weren’t happy,” Quenneville said. “We were going along the game fine and perfectly. I know we took too many penalties in that second period, but you got a 2-0 lead back in that period, another power play [for them] and they scored on it. And the one at the end of the period kind of reminded me of the one in the late last seconds in Game 2. Here we go again.”
In the end, Quenneville wouldn’t have to relive the gut-wrenching feeling of the Blues snatching a victory away from his team as they did in Games 1 and 2.
With the game and likely the series on the line, the Blackhawks responded with their own late, game-tying goal from Bryan Bickell and completed the job in overtime -- for the first time in three OT tries in the series -- as Patrick Kane delivered the winner.
“It was do or die,” Bickell said. “We didn’t want to be down 3-1 going into their building in a couple days.
“They’ve come back twice in the first three games, and I think we have the same character, do or die. I think everybody stepped up when times were needed and, again, we’re happy to get the win.”
The win resets the series for the Blackhawks. After dropping the series’ first two games in St. Louis, Chicago won two straight and get another crack at winning in the Blues’ building.