Shaw's smile requires no lip-reading as Game 7 looms
CHICAGO (AP) No lip-reading was required this time to gauge Andrew Shaw's mood.
After serving a one-game suspension for a gay slur yelled from the penalty box - as well as apologizing for his ''hurtful'' remarks - the Blackhawks center returned to the lineup for Game 6 Saturday night and delivered a crucial third-period insurance goal in Chicago's series-extending 6-3 win.
''Obviously, it's a weight off my shoulders,'' Shaw said afterward.
No sooner had he beaten goalie Brian Elliott with little more than 3 minutes to go than Shaw raised both arms and began yelling ''Whoo! Whoo! Whoo!'' Even after returning to the Chicago bench to congratulatory taps and smacks from teammates, Shaw was careful not to mouth a word, exhaling hard and yelling ''Whoo!'' several times more.
It was in sharp contrast to his Game 4 tantrum. In addition to the suspension, Shaw was fined $5,000 for an obscene gesture - extending both middle fingers with his gloves on - to officials as he was headed to the penalty box.
The series now heads to St. Louis for Game 7. Just as the Blues had done in Chicago on Tuesday night, the Hawks roared back from a 3-1 deficit and pulled into the lead after Dale Weise scored with almost four minutes left in the second period.
''They had a big surge ... in the second period and we didn't answer it as well as we should have,'' Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said.
''We've got Game 7 at home. It's the best-case scenario we could have hoped for,'' he added a moment later. ''We had a dream for getting this matchup and getting home ice advantage. That's what we've earned.''
The Blues have been knocked out in the first round the past three seasons, including by the Blackhawks in 2014. Chicago, meanwhile, improved to 15-1 in recent Game 6s. Captain Jonathan Toews said that's no coincidence.
''It's a testament again to our experience and the guys who haven't been here ... to really buy in and play the right way when we've been in this do-or-die position we've been in the last couple games,'' he said. ''You see what can happen when we all buy in, we all play the right way.''
But Chicago's record in Game 7s is a slightly less impressive 2-2 (1-1 on the road) in the last eight postseasons. St. Louis' Alexander Steen argued the Blues need to be more aggressive to produce the success they forged during the regular season - winning all three meetings - and en route to building a 3-1 series lead.
''We've got to play the way we have when we've been pushing them to their limits and have good outing at home,'' he said. ''We've got to stay on top of them all the time.''
The Blues out-hit Chicago, 40-38, the narrowest margin in the series. Over the six games, St. Louis has 62 more total hits - 249-187 - and the rough treatment was part of what set Shaw off in Game 4.
But Saturday night, with Chicago on the power play and the clock down to 3 minutes, Shaw proved a moving target was harder to hit, sliding side to side along the crease while Toews and Patrick Kane ran a give-and-go below the goal line. When Kane saw space on Elliott's stick side, he fired a sparkling pass to Shaw from behind the net. The one-timer was never in doubt.
''We did everything we wanted to, we kept the puck on the outside, tired `em out and Kaner made a great pass,'' Shaw said.
He also called celebrating with teammates on the ice ''100 percent better'' than watching the Hawks' double-overtime Game 5 win with a handful of inactive players in the visitors' locker room in St. Louis.
''Being there to contribute, making sure you do all those little things on the ice you need to win,'' Shaw said, his voice trailing off.
The smile that followed spoke volumes.