Chicago Blackhawks: St. Louis Blues

W2W4: Blues at Blackhawks

December, 3, 2014
12/03/14
3:11
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
Antti RaantaDon McPeak/USA TODAY SportsAntti Raanta will get the start in goal for the Blackhawks Wednesday against the Blues.


CHICAGO -- Here’s what to watch for when the St. Louis Blues and Chicago Blackhawks play at the United Center on Wednesday:

• The Blackhawks and Blues meet for the second time this season. The Blues won 3-2 in St. Louis on Oct. 25.

• Blackhawks goaltender Antti Raanta started against the Blues on Oct. 25 and will start again Wednesday. Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford is out 2-3 weeks with a lower-body injury. Raanta hasn’t played for the Blackhawks since Oct. 25. He is 1-2-0 with a 2.03 goals-against average and .933 save percentage this season.

(Read full post)

Brent Seabrook grateful to play again

April, 27, 2014
4/27/14
7:23
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks’ season could have ended while defenseman Brent Seabrook was serving a three-game suspension.

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.

[+] EnlargeBrent Seabrook
AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

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.

Seabrook rejoined his teammates for Game 6 on Sunday and helped the Blackhawks finish off the Blues. Seabrook contributed two assists, had a plus-3 rating and helped kill off six penalties in the Blackhawks’ 5-1 series-clinching victory at the United Center.

“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.”

Blackhawks looking to close another series

April, 26, 2014
4/26/14
2:22
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
Chicago BlackhawksJonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesThe Blackhawks have their first chance to close out their first-round series with the Blues on Sunday.
CHICAGO -- Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville’s teams have a history of closing a series when given the opportunity during his tenure.

The Blackhawks have had 12 chances to finish a team in a playoff series over the past six seasons. Ten times, the Blackhawks have taken care of business. The only two instances where that didn’t happen were in a Game 7 loss to the Vancouver Canucks in the conference quarterfinals in 2011 and a Game 5 loss to the Canucks in the conference semifinals in 2010. The Blackhawks bounced back with a Game 6 win to knock off the Canucks in 2010.

Chicago will get its first chance to close out its first-round series with the St. Louis Blues on Sunday after taking a 3-2 series lead with a 3-2 overtime win in Game 5 on Friday.

Quenneville wasn’t sure why his teams had a history of success in such games, but he was happy they did.

"We got some guys who like to rise to challenges in big games and big settings, and I think they’ve proven that with their history,” Quenneville said at the United Center on Saturday. "I think they get excited in that situation. I think with that experience in these situations can be beneficial.”

(Read full post)

Rapid Reaction: Hawks 3, Blues 2 (F/OT)

April, 25, 2014
4/25/14
10:23
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
Archive


ST. LOUIS -- Here’s a quick look at the Chicago Blackhawks’ 3-2 overtime win over the St. Louis Blues in Game 5 of their Western Conference first-round series at the Scottrade Center on Friday.

How it happened: Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews scored the winning goal on a breakaway at 7:36 of overtime. The Blackhawks were the first to score on the night, as Marian Hossa broke his four-game scoreless drought. He scored off his own rebound at 16:11 of the first period. The Blues tied the game at 1-1, when T.J. Oshie scored with a backhanded shot as he was skidding on his knees at 11:04 in the second period. Ben Smith put the Blackhawks back ahead 2-1 with a backhanded shot near the net six minutes later in the second. The Blues tied it again at 2-2, when Jaden Schwartz set up Alex Pietrangelo for a goal on a 2-on-1 rush at 1:42 of the third period. Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford and Blues goaltender Ryan Miller each made 27 saves.

What it means: The Blackhawks became the first team in the series to win on the road. They took home-ice advantage away from the Blues and a 3-2 lead in the series. The Blackhawks have a chance to close out the series at home on Sunday. Four of the five games have been decided in overtime. Each team has won twice in overtime. Both teams continued to have power-play woes and penalty-killing success. They each were 0-for-2 on the power play in the game. The Blackhawks are 2-for-18 for the series, and the Blues are 2-for-23.

Player of the game: Toews scored the winning goal. He has six points in the series.

Stat of the game: Hossa had seven shots on goal, scoring once.

What’s next: The series returns to Chicago for Game 6 on Sunday.

Hawks finally turn it around in overtime

April, 24, 2014
4/24/14
2:26
AM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
Archive


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.

(Read full post)

Rapid Reaction: Hawks 4, Blues 3 (F/OT)

April, 23, 2014
4/23/14
11:58
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
Archive


CHICAGO -- Here’s a quick look at the Chicago Blackhawks’ 4-3 overtime win over the St. Louis Blues in Game 4 of their Western Conference first-round series at the United Center on Wednesday.

How it happened: Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane scored the winning goal at 11:17 of overtime. Both teams previously led in the game. The Blackhawks built a 2-0 lead in the second period behind a power-play goal by Andrew Shaw and a goal by Kane. The Blues responded with two goals in the final 1:09 of the second period. Vladimir Tarasenko first scored a power-play goal from the left circle at 18:51. Max Lapierre tied the game with a shot from the right circle with 3.1 seconds remaining in the period. Tarasenko broke the 2-2 tie when he scored from the right circle off a 2-on-1 rush at 12:26 of the third period. Blackhawks forward Bryan Bickell tied the game at 3-3 when he redirected a shot by Michal Rozsival into the net with 3:42 remaining in the third period. Chicago gave St. Louis five power plays, and the Blues capitalized on one of them. The Blackhawks were 1-for-2 on the power play. St. Louis goaltender Ryan Miller made 30 saves, and Chicago's Corey Crawford had 30 saves.

What it means: It wasn’t easy, but the Blackhawks took care of business in Chicago. The Blackhawks won both of their games at the United Center after dropping the first two games in St. Louis. The Blackhawks still face the challenge of winning in the Scottrade Center with the Blues having home-ice advantage. The Blackhawks won their first overtime game of the series after dropping Games 1 and 2 in OT. Seven of the Blues’ 11 goals in the series have been scored in either the final two minutes of a period or in overtime. Chicago has killed off 19 of 21 power plays in the series. Jonathan Toews had two assists in the win and has five points in the series.

Player of the game: Kane had by far his best game of the series. He started the sequence on the power-play goal, finished a pass from Johnny Oduya for the second goal and then scored the winner. He has three goals and four points in the series.

Stat of the game: Kane had nine shot attempts.

What’s next: The series returns to St. Louis for Game 5 on Friday.

Blues' David Backes out for Game 4

April, 23, 2014
4/23/14
8:22
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
CHICAGO -- St. Louis Blues forward David Backes will not play against the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 4 of their Western Conference first-round series on Wednesday due to an upper-body injury.

Backes was scratched for the second consecutive game due to the injury. He has been out since he took a hit to the head from Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook in the third period of Game 2. Seabrook was suspended three games for the hit.

Backes had 27 goals, 30 assists, a plus-14 rating and an average ice time of 19:33 in 74 regular-season games. He had one assist in the first two games of the series.

The Blues lead the series 2-1.

Hawks' Bickell: I'm not a dirty player

April, 21, 2014
4/21/14
2:37
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks forward Bryan Bickell doesn't believe his hits against the St. Louis Blues in Game 2 of their first-round playoff series were dirty, despite Blues coach Ken Hitchcock recently voicing his concern.

[+] EnlargeBryan Bickell
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty ImagesBryan Bickell calls himself an "honest checker" not a dirty player.
Bickell was called for kneeing after he collided with Blues forward Vladimir Sobotka during the third period in Game 2 on Saturday. Hitchcock also thought a hit on Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo was questionable in the first period.

"They are hockey plays," Bickell said Monday. "I'm going to try to finish my check every time. I don't think I'm a dirty player that looks to throw knees out or hit high. I'm just an honest checker. Things like that are going to happen. Guys want to get out of the way to avoid hits. It happens that way and I just need to keep going."

Hitchcock believes there are too many similarities between the two hits.

"There was a similar hit on Pietrangelo the first period that was really concerning by the same player," Hitchcock said Sunday. "When you're leg-whipping people, it's a concern because it's career-ending. That's ACL, career-ending. That's a big concern for me, the safety of the players. That part bothers me more than the hit on David [Backes], a hit that went awry. The hit on Sobotka was a continuation of what happened to [Pietrangelo] in the first period."

Bickell also spoke specifically about the hit on Sobotka.

"I don't know [if the hit was dirty]; I don't think so," Bickell said. "I'm going to be finishing my check. I think [Sobotka] tried to avoid it, and I tried to lean into it a little bit, and I got a piece of him. I think he was all right. I know he tried to get more out of it, but he didn't miss his shift, so I think he's fine. Things like that are going to happen. The game is so fast, and I'm going to be finishing my checks, and I just need to keep my head down and keep going."

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville wouldn't respond to Hitchcock's comments, but he said Bickell's physical play was part of why the Blackhawks have had success in the past.

"With [Bickell], he gives you energy," Quenneville said. "I think last year we saw him making an impact on our team in the playoffs with his physicality and presence and was definitely influential the last two series and got up to the pace as the playoffs progressed that suddenly he was an impact player. I think he came on in that last game [against the Blues], gave us that energy he can bring, and we look forward from that going forward."

Bickell had a game-high seven hits in Game 2 and has a series-high 13 hits in the two games.

Hawks endure another tough loss

April, 19, 2014
4/19/14
7:50
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
Archive


ST. LOUIS -- The Chicago Blackhawks left St. Louis with a serious case of the blues.

Twice in three days, the Blackhawks were on the verge late in the third period of defeating the St. Louis Blues by a goal and taking home-ice advantage away from them in the Western Conference first-round playoff series, and twice, the Blues delivered a punch to the Blackhawks’ gut by scoring a game-tying goal late in the third period and prevailing in overtime.

[+] EnlargeCorey Crawford
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty ImagesNo one placed the blame for the Hawks' loss on Corey Crawford, except for the goaltender himself. "We're not going to win if I'm going to play like that," he said. "Just got to be better."
Both losses possessed plenty of similarities for the Blackhawks.

The Blackhawks were first devastated by the Blues in Game 1 when St. Louis erased a 3-2 lead with 1:46 remaining in the third period and then won the game in triple overtime on Thursday.

The Blackhawks were even closer to victory on Saturday. After fending off a 5-on-3 power play for 46 seconds and a 5-on-4 power play for 3:59 -- which also included the Blues removing their goalie and adding another attacker -- in the final five minutes of the third period, Chicago's 3-2 lead was decimated when the Blues’ Vladimir Tarasenko scored with 6.4 seconds remaining in the period. The Blues finished the job with a goal by Barret Jackman 5:50 into a first overtime.

The Blackhawks dealt with so much penalty-killing time because Bryan Bickell was called for kneeing at 13:55 and Brent Seabrook received five minutes for charging and a game misconduct at 15:09. Chicago killed off 17:47 of a possible 17:48 of the Blues’ power plays in the game.

"We did a great job killing," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "It was an outstanding job, and you’re right there, six seconds away. The other game was tough losing at a buck and change, but tonight was brutal."

(Read full post)

Rapid Reaction: Blues 4, Hawks 3 (OT)

April, 19, 2014
4/19/14
5:36
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
Archive


ST. LOUIS -- Here’s a quick look at the St. Louis Blues' 4-3 overtime win over the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 2 of their Western Conference first-round series at the Scottrade Center on Saturday.

How it happened: Barret Jackman scored 5:50 into overtime for the game-winner. Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko forced overtime by scoring a power-play goal from the top of the right circle with 6.4 seconds remaining in the third period. St. Louis had pulled goaltender Ryan Miller off the ice and had a 6-on-4 advantage. The Blues were on the power play from 13:55 of the third period to when Tarasenko scored at 19:53. Blackhawks forward Bryan Bickell was called for kneeing at 13:55, and defenseman Brent Seabrook got five minutes for charging and received a game misconduct for a hit he put on David Backes at 15:09. Backes left the game and did not return.

The Blackhawks took a 3-2 lead when Blackhawks defenseman Michal Rozsival's shot deflected off Backes and skidded past Miller at 6:38 of the third period. The Blues had built a 2-0 lead in the first period off goals by Chris Porter and Kevin Shattenkirk. But the Blackhawks started to rally in the second period. Defenseman Duncan Keith scored at 17:25 of the second for their first goal. Seabrook came through with the second goal as he scored from the right circle at 4:53 of the third period.

Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford made 27 saves on 31 shots. Blues goaltender Ryan Miller stopped 25-of-28 shots.

What it means: The Blues take a 2-0 series lead and hold onto home-ice advantage. Backes’ health has to be a concern for the Blues going forward. He looked out of sorts after the hit. Seabrook could be looking at a suspension. The Blues have rallied from 3-2 deficits in the third period and won in overtime in both games of the series. They scored with 1:46 remaining in the third period in Game 1 to force overtime and then won it in a third overtime Thursday.

The Blues have been giving the Blackhawks power-play chances, but the Blackhawks haven’t been able to capitalize. They are 1-for-10 on the power play in the series. The Blackhawks went 119:26 without scoring a goal from Patrick Kane's first-period goal in Game 1 to Keith’s second-period goal in Game 2.

Player of the game: Tarasenko provided the clutch goal in the win.

Stat of the game: The Blues had 17:48 of power-play time.

What’s next: The series travels to Chicago for Games 3 and 4. Game 3 will be at the United Center on Monday.

Oshie's return still uncertain for Blues

April, 18, 2014
4/18/14
3:58
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- St. Louis Blues forward T.J. Oshie is expected to return from an upper-body injury sometime during the Western Conference first-round series against the Chicago Blackhawks, but Blues coach Ken Hitchcock is still unsure when that will be.

Oshie
Oshie missed Game 1 on Thursday and as of Friday afternoon is not expected to play in Saturday's Game 2.

"Until someone taps me on the shoulder and says he's a game player, he's out," Hitchcock said on Friday. "Our lineup is going to be fluid every day. Every day it's going to be fluid. I told you guys before we're going to have everybody play in this series at some period of time. That obviously means by Game 5 we expect everybody be ready to go. Hopefully nobody gets injured. Touch wood, but that's our expectation."

Oshie has missed the Blues' past three games due to the injury. He took a hit to the head against the Minnesota Wild on April 10 and has not played since then. He had 21 goals, 39 assists and a plus-19 rating in 79 regular season games.

The Blues were also without forward Patrik Berglund due to an upper-body injury in Game 1. He has missed two consecutive games due to the injury. He had 14 goals, 18 assists and a plus-10 rating in 78 regular-season games.

Hitchcock said he'd likely have a better idea of the injured players' status on Saturday morning.

"We kind of know every morning, the game day, who's in," Hitchcock said. "Today was a good day for the guys that were out, another good day. We'll see how they feel tomorrow."

The Blues defeated the Blackhawks 4-3 in three overtimes in Game 1 of the series on Thursday.

Blues have Blackhawks' number late, again

April, 18, 2014
4/18/14
1:18
AM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
Archive


ST. LOUIS -- The Chicago Blackhawks experienced the familiar feeling Thursday of almost defeating the St. Louis Blues in the Scottrade Center.

Three times the Blackhawks have been in position in the final period to knock off the Blues in their building this season, and three times the Blues have crushed the Blackhawks’ spirits with late victories.

Thursday’s 4-3, three-overtime loss to the Blues in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series certainly hurt the Blackhawks much more than the previous two.

[+] EnlargeSt. Louis Blues
Mark Buckner/NHLI/Getty ImagesThe above sentiment is becoming more commonplace for the Blues late in games against the Blackhawks at St. Louis.
The Blackhawks led 3-2 for nearly 40 minutes and had the finish line in sight as the game clock was down to the final two minutes of the third period on Thursday. But just as the Blues proved in their two regular-season meetings in St. Louis, their fight wouldn’t cease until game’s end.

The Blues had been the dominant team throughout the third period as the Blackhawks tried to protect their one-goal lead, and with 1:45 remaining in the third period, the Blues were rewarded for their effort. It was then Jaden Schwartz struck the puck past Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford to tie the game at three and ultimately force overtime. The Blues finished the job when Alexander Steen scored 26 seconds into the third overtime.

"They’re pressing," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said of the Blues in the third period. "They’re pinching. They’re aggressive. They’re gambling. They had some opportunities there. We almost got through it."

"Almost" is a prevailing feeling for the Blackhawks against the Blues at the Scottrade Center. The Blackhawks almost topped the Blues when they first met in St. Louis this season on Oct. 9, but the Blues scored in the final minute of the third period and won 3-2. When they next met in St. Louis on Dec. 28, the Blackhawks were leading 5-3 in the third period before the Blues rallied with two goals in the final four minutes, forced overtime and won in a shootout.

Quenneville wasn’t oblivious to the similarities.

"We were close to getting it done," Quenneville said. "It was just like the last two games in this building here."

The Blackhawks had some quality opportunities in the third period to extend their lead to two goals. The Blues gave the Blackhawks two power plays in the last 15 minutes, but they didn’t get a single shot on net off either of them. The Blues had 14 shots on goal to the Blackhawks’ six in the third period.

Quenneville played the two power plays in the third period safe by placing two defensemen on each unit in case the Blues created a short-handed chance. He didn’t regret that.

"We’ve done that all year," Quenneville said. "We didn’t change anything on the timing or the score and the situation."

Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane felt his team might have been holding onto the puck too long and trying to contain the lead too much late in the game.

"Maybe a little bit, for sure, especially the last 5-10 minutes," Kane said. "I know we had a couple power plays where we could have maybe scored, made it 4-2, which would have been nice. It didn’t work out that way.

"We’ll try to get the power play going a little bit better and capitalize on our opportunities there. Definitely would have been nice to get another one and give us a little bit [of] insurance."

The Blackhawks don’t have much time to dwell on their loss. The teams return to the same building for Game 2 at 2 p.m. CT on Saturday. Kane believes that might be a good thing.

"It stings right now, obviously," Kane said. "The big thing for us is we got to realize it’s only one game. We obviously got a quick turnaround playing an afternoon game coming up.

"That’s the best part of it; we can get back at it and figure out what we can do better."

Rapid Reaction: Blues 4, Hawks 3 (F/3OT)

April, 17, 2014
4/17/14
11:53
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
Archive


ST. LOUIS -- Here’s a quick look at the St. Louis Blues’ 4-3 three-overtime win over the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 1 of their Western Conference first-round series at the Scottrade Center on Thursday.

How it happened: The Blackhawks and Blues set the bar high for the remainder of the series. The Blues’ Alexander Steen scored 26 seconds into the third overtime for the win. The Blackhawks looked to have the game secured in regulation. They were leading 3-2 heading into the final two minutes of the third period. Jaden Schwartz saved the Blues by scoring in front of the net with 1:56 remaining in the third period. The Blackhawks had been leading 3-2 since the end of the first period. Patrick Kane broke a 2-2 tie at 18:24 of the first period, when he received a stretch pass from Jonathan Toews and scored on a breakaway. The Blackhawks’ Johnny Oduya and Brent Seabrook and the Blues’ Adam Cracknell and Vladimir Tarasenko also scored first-period goals. The Blackhawks nearly won the game in the first overtime, but Blues forward Maxim Lapierre blocked a Blackhawks’ shot while standing behind goaltender Ryan Miller in the net. Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford made 48 saves on 52 shots. Miller made 39 saves on 42 shots. The Blackhawks failed to score on two overtime power plays, and the Blues squandered one overtime power-play opportunity of their own.

What it means: The Blues went up 1-0 in the series and held onto their home-ice advantage. The Blues have scored a number of clutch third-period goals against the Blackhawks this season. The Blues pulled out a 3-2 win over the Blackhawks by scoring in the final minute of the third period on Oct. 9. The Blues came back from a 5-3 deficit when they scored two goals in the final four minutes of the third period on Dec. 28, then won in the shootout. The Blues’ win on Thursday marked their first victory since April 3.

Both teams benefited in getting some of their top players back. Tarasenko had missed the previous 15 games for the Blues. Kane was out the previous 12 games, and Toews missed six games. The Blackhawks’ top line of Toews, Kris Versteeg and Brandon Saad was especially effective for the Blackhawks. The Blackhawks won 54-of-91 faceoffs.

Player of the game: Steen scored the winning goal.

Stat of the game: Blues defensemen Alex Pietrangelo played a game-high 44:08 of ice time.

What’s next: The series remains in St. Louis for Game 2, at 2 p.m. CT Saturday.

Hawks not feeling lucky to play Blues

April, 14, 2014
4/14/14
4:00
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks don't feel like they won the lottery by getting the St. Louis Blues instead of the Colorado Avalanche in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

The Blackhawks ended up with the Blues because St. Louis dropped its last six regular-season games and the Avalanche went 7-1-2 in their final 10 games. The Blues were leading the Avalanche by seven points as of April 7.

[+] EnlargeAlex Pietrangelo, Bryan Bickell
Jonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesThe Blackhawks lost three of five games against the Blues in the regular season.
"That's what everybody wants to talk about, but we're not going to think that we have an easier team to play against," Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said on Monday. "That's definitely not going to be the case. They're a team that loves to play physical against us, and we've got to expect that. There's no reason why we can't return that as well. We'll be ready to bring that type of effort.

"It's going to be a tough game, a tough atmosphere to be a part of, starting out in St. Louis. We'll be ready for it. But I don't think there's any feeling of us facing a team that's not going to give us their best. It's going to take our best to beat them."

The Blackhawks had mixed results against the Blues during the regular season. The Blues defeated the Blackhawks in their first three meetings, with two those of victories coming in a shootout. The Blackhawks got the better of the Blues in their final two games.

The Blues do have home-ice advantage on the Blackhawks, and that could be a factor in the series. The Blues won both games in St. Louis this season. They scored a goal in the final minute of the third period to defeat the Blackhawks 3-2 on Oct. 9, and they rallied from a 5-3 deficit to score two goals in the final four minutes of the third period to force overtime and win 6-5 in a shootout on Dec. 28.

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville put the emphasis on stealing home-ice advantage in Game 1 on Thursday.

"Game 1 is the objective," Quenneville said. "There were a couple of tough games in their building where it looked like we were getting something out of the games -- tough losses both nights. At the same time, we did a lot of good things in both those games. It's a big Game 1. Let's be excited about it."

The Blackhawks are aiming for a stronger start to this season's playoffs than they put forward in the opening round last season. The Blackhawks were disappointed with their early play against the Minnesota Wild in the Western Conference quarterfinals last season, winning the first game 2-1 in overtime and winning the series in five games.

"I would say we had an ordinary start last year in the Minnesota series," Quenneville said. "I think we've got to be ready to be hitting the ground running against this team. We had a terrific regular season last year and it seems like playoffs were the same pace. We've got to expect this is going to be a different pace."

Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane expects the Blues to be physical, but he believes it is important for the Blackhawks to stick to their style of game. The Blackhawks defeated the Blues in their past two games by dominating the puck. The Blackhawks had a 53.6 Corsi percentage (52 shots for, 45 shots against) in their 4-0 win over the Blues on March 19 and a 61.2 Corsi (60 shots for, 38 against) in a 4-2 win on April 6.

"I don't know if that's the kind of team we are [being physical]," Kane said. "I think there's not many games throughout the year, maybe a handful if that, where we're outhitting a team. And that's because we're a team that likes to play with the puck, have puck possession and create that way.

"I think the most important thing is to try to play our game and try not to be anyone else. We're not going to try to go up against them and try to play like the St. Louis Blues or the L.A. Kings. That's not the way we play around here. Obviously we want to be physical when we get a chance, especially on their top guys. And play hard. If we meet it, great, but the most important thing is to try and score more goals than them."

What you need to know: St. Louis Blues

April, 13, 2014
4/13/14
4:04
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
MillerMark Buckner/Getty ImagesRyan Miller and the Blues stumbled down the stretch in the regular season.
Here’s a look at the St. Louis Blues prior to their showdown with the Chicago Blackhawks in the first round of the playoffs:

  • The Blackhawks went 2-1-2 against the Blues this season. The Blackhawks defeated the Blues 4-2 in Chicago on April 6 and 4-0 in Chicago on March 19. They lost to the Blues 3-2 in St. Louis on Oct. 9, 3-2 in a shootout in Chicago on Oct. 17 and 6-5 in a shootout in St. Louis on Dec. 28.

  • The Blues lost their final six regular-season games. They were outscored 22-5 during that span. They had a seven-point lead on the Colorado Avalanche in the Central as of April 7.

  • In their regular-season finale, the Blues were without David Backes, T.J. Oshie, Patrick Berglund, Barret Jackman, Brenden Morrow, Vladimir Tarasenko, Alex Pietrangelo and Vladimir Sobotka due to injuries. The Blues are expected to return Backes, Oshie, Jackman, Pietrangelo and Sobotka for Game 1.

  • The Blues rank ninth in the league with a 2.92 goals-for average. That average was at 3.15 goals after 73 games. They scored nine goals over their final nine games.

  • Blues goaltender Ryan Miller has lost his past five starts. He had a 3.60 goals-against average and stopped 107 of 125 shots for a .856 save percentage in that span. He allowed three or more goals in eight of his last 10 games. Miller started one game against the Blackhawks this season.

  • (Read full post)

    SPONSORED HEADLINES

    TEAM LEADERS

    POINTS
    Patrick Kane
    PTS GOALS AST +/-
    64 27 37 10
    OTHER LEADERS
    GoalsP. Kane 27
    AssistsP. Kane 37
    +/-J. Toews 21
    GAAC. Crawford 2.30