The Chicago Blackhawks defeated the St. Louis Blues 5-1 in Game 6 on Sunday afternoon to win their Central Division Semifinal matchup 4-2. Next up the Blackhawks advance to the Central Division Final against the winner of the Colorado Avalanche/Minnesota Wild series. The Avalanche is currently leading the series 3-2 with Game 6 in Minnesota on Monday night.
In the first period, it was the Blackhawks who would strike early. Bryan Bickell deflected a Brent Seabrook slap shot past Ryan Miller at 4:12. But the Blues would answer back as T.J. Oshie one timed a puck past Corey Crawford at 16:28 that went in so quickly that he wasn’t aware he had scored. The Blackhawks penalty killing was successful twice as they killed off two Marcus Kruger penalties.
The second period saw the Blues make their last push in the series. In the second period, the Blackhawks took three penalties including a four minute high sticking penalty from Marian Hossa. Yet again the Blackhawks penalty killing was fantastic as Duncan Keith, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Marcus Kruger and Michal Handzus were a few of the fantastic performances. Then there was Corey Crawford who made several amazing saves and 17 in total in the second period as the Blackhawks were outshot 17-3 in the period and lucky to escape with the game tied after forty minutes.
Lucky with the game tied after two periods, the Blackhawks came out and methodically put the nails in the coffin of the Blues. A carryover power play in the third period paid immediate dividends as Keith kept the puck in at the blue line. He found Jonathan Toews for a cross ice pass in the offensive zone. Toews skated into the slot and beat Miller over his shoulder into the top corner 44 seconds into the period to give the Blackhawks a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. A little over a minute later Patrick Sharp finally got on the score sheet. After blocking a shot, Sharp raced up ice and was sprung by a pass from Patrick Kane. Sharp was hooked by Kevin Shattenkirk and with the puck sliding off his stick, it slid underneath Miller who failed in his poke check attempt and allowed a soft goal that was the backbreaker at 2:01. Unlike previous games, the Blackhawks kept the pressure on and Andrew Shaw tipped a Keith shot past Miller at 7:30 of the period. The Blackhawks were able to put the series to rest with continued pressure in the offensive zone. With the game and series over, the Blackhawks added one more goal as Shaw found Keith on a breakaway who knocked his own shot out of midair and into a net that half open at 17:05.
What it means
The Blackhawks defeat the Blues in 6 games in a first round series that many expected later in the playoffs. A couple of days off will come for the Blackhawks as they won’t be back on the ice for practice until Wednesday as they await their opponent in the Central Division Final. This is the second year in a row that the Blues have lost a first round series in 6 games after holding a 2-0 lead.
3 stars of the game
3. Jonathan Toews- It was a strong game from the captain who finished with one goal on one shot on goal. Toews scored the game winner for the 3rd time in this series and now holds the Blackhawks playoff record with 9 game winning goals. It was a phenomenal series for Toews who finished with 3 goals and 5 assists.
2. Duncan Keith- To get a number two star for this performance speaks of how highly the number one star played. Keith was fantastic and his keep in on the blue line on the game winning goal was a beauty. On the night, Keith had one goal and three assists while recording a plus three. Keith finished the series with 2 goals and 5 assists.
1. Corey Crawford- You could easily say that Keith could be the number one star of this game. But Crawford was phenomenal having to kill off six power plays and was sensational in the second period. Crawford made 35 saves on 36 shots including a half dozen that were prime scoring chances. From Game 3 on, Crawford made 126 saves on 132 shots and had a .935 save percentage in the series.