CHICAGO – After staking the St Louis Blues to a 2-0 series lead, Chicago got back to playing Blackhawks hockey and won four straight including Sunday’s 5-1 rout in the series-clincher.
For the Blues, it was another year of one and done in the post season. In fact, this was a mirror image of their departure from the 2013 playoffs when the Kings came back from 0-2 down to win 4-2 in the first round. Sunday’s match was tight through two periods before the Blackhawks dropped four unanswered goals in the third.
“We knew those first two games could’ve gone either way and we knew that we didn’t play our best hockey,” said Chicago’s Duncan Keith. “It’s a seven-game series for a reason. We’ve been through enough playoff series to realize that. It’s not a sprint. It’s a marathon.”
Special teams won the day for Chicago especially in the second period when the Hawks were whistled for six penalties.
“I think both our PK and [Crawford] won the game and the series, ultimately,” Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. “I think that was a big factor in us getting through this series. It was a very competitive series. We had six straight penalties against us [Sunday] and getting through that and then scoring on our power play was obviously huge. I thought that was the [biggest] factor. They were dominating the first 40 minutes there and we came back with maybe our best period of the year.”
Keith had a goal and three assists in the game to drive most of the offense.
“It took a few games to get that emotion into it, and I think once we got going we carried the play for portions of the game,” Keith said. “But you’ve got to give St. Louis credit too. They had momentum too in certain games and they carried the play too. They had lots of chances and shots, but I think when we’re fully engaged we’re a real tough team to beat.”
For St Louis, it was another bitter post season pill to swallow especially losing to Chicago.
“We have to work for our chances,” St. Louis defenseman Jay Bouwmeester said. “We’re a team that scored a lot of goals around the net. Dirty goals. We probably didn’t do enough of that, didn’t get enough pucks through to the net, battling and that sort of thing. On the flipside, they’ve got some skilled guys and if you give them opportunities and some space, they’re going to finish.”
When the Blackhawks broke out in the third period the air went of the Blues bench. As the lead increased, the resistance from St Louis deflated.
“The third goal was really a backbreaker for us,” Blues coach Hitchcock said. “That was really the one that hurt because we’ve been chasing all series and been able to catch up in games, but the third goal really took the wind out of our sails. We earned the power plays. We earned the power plays because of the way we worked and battled. We played a great first two periods. I thought the third goal, you could see a big sag on the team after that.”http://
The Blackhawks no await the winner of the Wild-Avalanche series.