Game Report: Blackhawks 6, Blues 3

By Nicholas Hand

The Blues built a 3-1 lead in the first period of game six against the Blackhawks Saturday night in Chicago but then allowed five unanswered goals as the Blackhawks once again won an elimination game, tying the series at 3-3 and setting up game 7 Monday night in St. Louis.

Dale Weise scored what proved to be the game-winning goal late in the second period to cap a three goal second period response by the defending Stanley Cup Champions, who are now 9-1 when facing elimination since the start of the 2013 playoffs.

The Blues, who have lost in the first round each of the past three years, will be trying to avoid becoming the first Blues team to lose a series after taking a 3-1 series lead since the 2002-03 Blues lost in a seven-game series to the Vancouver Canucks in the first round.
That was also the last time the Blues played a series that went to a seventh game.

The Blues got off to a rough start with shaky play in the defensive zone in the opening minutes Saturday night. A Kevin Shattenkirk turnover produced a point blank chance for Andrew Ladd, who buried the puck past Brian Elliott following a Marcus Kruger pass at 3:47.

The Blackhawks had a prime chance to extend their lead to two goals when another turnover created an open net chance for Andrew Desjardins who shot the puck wide. The miss proved costly as the Blues caught the Blackhawks too deep in the offensive zone and a missed pass intended for Brent Seabrook produced an odd-man rush for Steve Ott and Scottie Upshall.

Ott sent a saucer pass to Upshall who fired the puck over Corey Crawford’s shoulder and into the net to tie the game at 6:18.

This sequence of events sparked the Blues, who gained the lead 2:33 later when an Alex Pietrangelo slap shot beat a heavily screened Crawford at 8:51. Troy Brouwer assisted on the goal with a nice pass to open Pietrangelo at the point. Paul Stastny also assisted registering his first point of the series.

The Blues extended the lead to 3-1 with nine minutes remaining in the first period when a terrific zone entry by Jaden Schwartz produced a late two-on-one for Jori Lehtera and Vladimir Tarasenko. Lehtera fed Tarasenko who blistered a wrist shot over the glove of Crawford and into the top corner of the net. It was his fourth goal of the series and 14th in 19 playoff games in his career.

The second period was all Chicago as the Blackhawks were able to erase the two-goal deficit by the 13 minute mark of the period.

Following a Kyle Brodziak hooking minor, Artem Anisimov batted a rebound off of a Marian Hossa shot past Elliott on the power-play at 4:13.

The Blackhawks domination of the period was rewarded with the game-tying goal by defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk at 12:21. Jonathan Toews broke in on a rush and sent a perfect pass to van Riemsdyk who applied late pressure to the goal and escaped the coverage of Blues forward Brouwer.

With 3:42 left in the period, Weise’s first goal of the series gave the Blackhawks a 4-3 lead in a period in which Chicago outshot the Blues by a 19 to six margin making the Blues 3-1 first period lead a distant memory.

The third period failed to produce any better results for the Blues as Crawford turned away the Blues best chance on a point blank shot by Lehtera midway through the third period.

Andrew Shaw scored a late power-play goal for the Blackhawks to put the game away with 3:07 remaining in regulation before Marian Hossa scored into an empty net.

Of Note: The second period continues to haunt the Blues. Just like Game 5, the Blues surrendered three second period goals to the Blackhawks… Shattenkirk was a liability for the Blues throughout the game with several key giveaways and blown defensive assignments finishing a minus-3... Despite needing a comeback, the Blues only mustered 17 total shots on the Blackhawks the final two periods… While Elliott didn’t have much help in front of him, an alarming trend continues with Elliott’s goaltending late in playoff series throughout his Blues career. In six appearances in Game 5s or later of a series with the Blues, Elliott is 1-4-0 with an .890 save percentage.

Between the Pipes:
Elliott surrendered five goals on 35 shots in the loss. Crawford made 25 saves on 28 shots but didn’t face a difficult workload after the first period.

Looking Ahead: The series moves back to St. Louis for the Game 7 finale on Monday night. It marks the first Game 7 for the Blues in St. Louis since April 25, 2000 when the Blues suffered a 3-1 loss to the eighth seeded San Jose Sharks. The Blues have a 6-8 record in franchise history in game 7’s, with the last win coming in 1999, when they beat Phoenix in overtime. Monday night’s game will begin at 7:30 p.m. at Scottrade Center.