Blues outlast Blackhawks to win Game 1 in a triple overtime thriller, 4-3
By Keith Schultz
The Blues finished Game 1 of their series against the Blackhawks with a win -- and it only took 100 minutes and 26 seconds to get it. Chicago led 3-2 for much of the game after a wild first period, but St. Louis scored the equalizer with 1:45 left in regulation when Jaden Schwartz put a backhander past goalie Corey Crawford. The two teams then slugged it out for two full overtime periods, both of which included plenty of end-to-end action but no goals. Finally, just 26 seconds into the third overtime, Steve Ott made a nifty pass to Alexander Steen, who scored the winning goal.
Here are some quick observations from the Blues' marathon triple overtime win.
• Blues goaltender Ryan Miller (39 saves), who had not played in a postseason games since 2011, seemed to struggle with nerves early in the game. He let in three goals on the first seven shots he faced, which didn't seem to bode well considering the shaky way he finished the regular season. Miller eventually calmed down and, for the rest of the game, looked like the franchise goalie that St. Louis had traded for in February. He stopped the Blackhawks' last 35 shots, including Patrick Sharp's breakaway that could have ended the game in the second overtime.
• The status of Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko was in question this week, but he made the game-day roster and was by far the most dangerous player on the ice on Thursday night. He took seven shots (tied for the team high with Chris Porter) and his line was St. Louis' only consistent scoring unit -- its forechecking pressure and puck possession helped Tarasenko and Schwartz to score a goal apiece.
• Corey Crawford may have given up the last-minute tying goal and the game-winner, but he was not the goat. He bailed the Blackhawks out time and again with big glove saves, and looked like he was going to be the hero until Chicago's defense failed him.
• The atmosphere at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis made Game 1 feel like a Game 7. The Blues' win preserved their home-ice advantage, and after six straight losses to end the regular season, it gave them a much-needed confidence boost.
• This is the second consecutive year that St. Louis has won Game 1 of its opening postseason series in overtime at home -- and in both games Steen scored the game-winner.
• Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane returned to the lineup after missing the final 12 games of the regular season. Though he looked as if he was slowed by the knee brace he has to wear, Kane scored Chicago's third goal on a breakaway. Captain Jonathan Toews also played for the first time since March 30th, when he was injured by a huge hit from the Penguins' Brooks Orpik. Toews had two assists, but was physically punished by the Blues, especially in the overtime frames.
• Along with Tarasenko, David Backes, Vladimir Sobotka, Derek Roy, and Brenden Morrow also returned to the St. Louis lineup. But two of the team's stars -- T.J. Oshie and Patrik Berglund, who combined for 35 goals and 57 assists during the regular season -- weren't able to play: Oshie was on the ice during the morning skate on Thursday, so his return could come as early as Game 2 on Saturday afternoon. Berglund is out indefinitely with an upper-body injury.
Game 2 will be in St. Louis on Saturday at 3 p.m. ET.