The Chicago Blackhawks weren’t ready to go quietly into the night.
Patrick Kane beat Brian Elliott on a wraparound in double overtime to lead the defending champs to a 4–3 win over the St. Louis Blues in Game 5 on Thursday night. The Blues now hold a 3–2 series lead. Game 6 is set for Saturday night in Chicago.
Here are three thoughts on Thursday’s game:
Big guns make noise
You've seen the stat: four games, 64 shots, and only one goal for the Hawks’ top-heavy top six in this series. With their season, and their Stanley Cup defense, on the line, the big guns needed to make themselves heard in order for Chicago to survive.
And they did. Kane was magnificent, scoring the double-OT winner on a relentless individual effort that saw him foiled twice by Elliott before collecting a loose puck behind the net and stuffing it in the short side. He also set up Chicago’s buzzer-beating third goal, saucing a pass to Artem Anisimov who ripped it past Elliott with just .4 seconds remaining in the second period.
Kane wasn’t the only one to answer the call. Marian Hossa opened the scoring with a shorthanded wrist rocket that caught Elliott cheating to his right and beat him short side. The goal was the 50th of Hossa's playoff career and highlighted a night that saw him showing plenty of jump on both sides of the puck. Jonathan Toews was in the middle of several chances. Andrew Ladd hit everything that moved. And Anisimov cashed in a Panarin rebound from the paint, showing the kind of net drive that was too often missing in Games 1–4.
Crawford saves the day
Crawford will take some heat for the first goal he allowed—he was too deep in the net, allowing Jaden Schwartz a huge target on the far side—but he’s the main reason why the Hawks live to fight another day. He was outstanding in the early going as the Blues swarmed Chicago's end, making big stops on Patrik Berglund, Alex Steen and Kevin Shattenkirk. But he was at his best in OT, highlighted by a huge stop on Jori Lehtera, who was all alone in the low slot with five minutes remaining. Crawford finished the night with 46 saves, earning one of the most clutch wins of his career.
Same old Blues?
For 40 glorious minutes, it looked as though the Blues were finally ridding themselves of their ghosts. Down by two in the third period, they got goals from Robby Fabbri (a beautiful individual effort) and David Backes (a gritty deflection from the slot) to send the game into extra time. They dominated possession in that frame, and again in the first overtime period, testing Crawford repeatedly from prime scoring areas.
But it was Crawford who won those duels, robbing Fabbri and Steen and Berglund on five-alarm chances. There was no questioning the effort, but the Blues' inability to execute with the game on the line raises questions. And with the series headed back to Chicago, a winner-take-all Game 7 seems inevitable. If it gets to that point, this team won’t just be battling the defending champs. It will also have to take down its own past.