If imitation is the greatest form of flattery, the Blackhawks should feel incredibly complimented after losing a tremendous first round series to the St. Louis Blues.
We’ve said it the entire series, but these aren’t the Blues that have folded so many times in the past. Alex Pietrangelo led a fantastic, deep blue line. Brian Elliott had an incredible series between the pipes. And the Blues showed off strong center depth throughout the series – all leading to a stunning seven-game victory.
Jori Lehtera got St. Louis on the board 60 seconds in to give the Blues a big lead after the Blackhawks dominated the final 40 minutes of Game Six.
At 13:43 Colton Parayko – an emerging star for the Blues – ripped a missile past Corey Crawford to extend the lead to two. David Rundblad, playing again for some unknown reason, had a great view of the screen and the goal; he should have had a camera for the AP instead of a hockey stick in his hand given the angle he had of the goal.
The Blues carried the action in the first period, but Marian Hossa unloaded a shot through a defenseman and past Elliott to get the Hawks within one with 90 seconds left in the opening period.
Drama. Because playoff hockey.
The Blackhawks came out and dominated the second period – but only beat Elliott once. Andrew Shaw scored his fourth goal of the postseason on the Hawks’ only power play of the night to tie the game at 3:20 but the Blues were able to withstand the onslaught to head to their dressing room tied.
Through two periods, the Hawks held a 24-21 shot advantage.
Both teams had really good chances in the third period, but both goaltenders were outstanding.
It wasn’t until former Blackhawk Troy Brouwer made a great play to tip a puck past Crawford at 8:31 that either team was able to capitalize on their opportunities.
And that goal stood up as the game-winner.
For the first time in 25 years, St. Louis won a Game Seven on home ice.
Richard Panik led the Hawks with five hits, but he took a rough interference penalty with ten minutes left in regulation.
Brent Seabrook led the Hawks with five blocked shots in 25:08 but labored after getting lit up along the boards. He never went to the room for attention; there could have been some concussion concerns, but in a Game Seven it’s hard for a team doctor to get a player’s attention.
Seabrook had a great look, but hit both posts and the puck somehow stayed out.
It was one of those nights.
Duncan Keith led Chicago, skating 33:34 with four shots on net and two blocked shots. But he was minus-two in the first period while babysitting Rundblad, who was awful.
Jonathan Toews won 15 of 24 faceoffs in exactly 20 minutes. Chicago’s captain was also credited with one assist, one blocked shot, one hit and one takeaway. He put two shots on net but failed to score a goal in the series, a credit to the Blues’ defense as much as the rotating wings on his line throughout the seven games.
Andrew Ladd, acquired for a big price at the deadline, had a team-high six shots on net four hits in the loss. Dale Weise, also added at the deadline, skated 8:48 and didn’t dent the box score. Tomas Fleischmann, acquired with Weise, was a healthy scratch. Christian Ehrhoff also watched the final game of the season from the press box.
Crawford played spectacular hockey, keeping the game close against a number of fantastic chances for the Blues. He made 23 saves in the loss. Elliott, arguably the best player in the series, made 31 saves in the clinching victory.
The coming summer will be an interesting one in Chicago.
Tarasenko and Panarin pic.twitter.com/eF013gVR1H
— Stephanie (@myregularface) April 26, 2016