The first period left Blackhawks fans wondering about the offseason.
The final 40 minutes left the Blues wondering what it takes to beat the best.
Saturday night at the United Center was an epic roller coaster of emotion. Andrew Ladd scored 3:47 into the game and the Hawks were bringing it. Moments later, Andrew Desjardins had a great look at a wide open net… and whiffed.
In the five minutes that followed, St. Louis put in three goals and Desjardins was set up on social media to join the likes of Chris Campoli as a postseason scapegoat that lives on in infamy. Scottie Upshall, Alex Pietrangelo and Blackhawks killer Vladimir Tarasenko scored in a 4:42 window and stole the excitement out of the packed house on West Madison.
On Twitter, the season was over. Desjardins was a goat, coach Joel Quenneville was an idiot, and Corey Crawford was a dog.
Thankfully, hockey games are more than 20 minutes.
After getting man-handled for 15 minutes in the first, the Hawks poured it on in the second. Chicago out-shot St. Louis 19-6 in the second and dominated every inch of the ice.
Artem Anisimov scored a power play goal at 4:13 to give the Hawks hope, cutting the lead to 3-2. When Trevor van Riemsdyk tied the game at 12:21, the roof just about blew off the United Center.
Then Dale Weise gave the Blackhawks the lead.
The missile of a one-timer completed a comeback that felt impossible only 16 minutes of game time prior, and the faces of the Blues players told the story.
Chicago had the lead, and the visiting Blues were wondering how they let a two-goal lead on the road in an elimination game slip away.
In the third, Andrew Shaw – returning from his one game suspension – scored a power play goal at 16:53 to give the Hawks a little more cushion. When Marian Hossa scored into an empty net at 17:40, the game was effectively over.
Crawford finished the night with 25 saves against 28 shots and another incredible playoff victory. He took a shot to the throat area late in the second period but stayed in the game to make some big saves in the third period as the Hawks hung on to a one-goal lead.
Richard Panik had only one assist but was rightfully named the game’s number one star. He was a human wrecking ball all over the ice, collecting a team-high six hits and adding two blocked shots in 16:13.
Hossa (one goal, one assist), Ladd (one goal, one assist), Artemi Panarin (two assists) and Jonathan Toews (two assists) had multi-point nights for Chicago. Toews also won 12 of 20 faceoffs while Marcus Kruger won 11 of 16 at the dot. Hossa led the Hawks with five shots on net.
On the blue line, van Riemsdyk had another improved outing. He added one blocked shot, one hit and one takeaway to his game-tying goal. He skated 22:17 in the victory.
Brent Seabrook led the Hawks with five blocked shots and also picked up six hits in 24:43. Duncan Keith was credited with three hits and one blocked shot in 30:54 and Niklas Hjalmarsson blocked three shots in 24:05 as the Blackhawks did a much better job of shutting down the Blues attack after the first period.
Patrick Kane led Chicago forwards in ice time again, skating 22:02 with one assist, one takeaway and three shots on net.
Weise had four hits with his game-winning goal in only 8:44 but stayed in the lineup with Shaw returning. Brandon Mashinter was scratched to make room for Shaw.
Game 7 is Monday night at 7:30 pm CT in St. Louis. Like Anaheim last year, the Blues will have all of the pressure on them to not complete blowing a 3-1 series lead against a team that has a history of closing the deal.