The Blackhawks were not a comeback team this season. When they faced a deficit, even if it was established in the first period, they usually didn’t recover from it.
But on Saturday night, down 3-1 after the first period and facing elimination, the Blackhawks came up with that rare comeback at just the right time.
Dale Weise scored the game-winner, his first goal in a Blackhawks uniform, as the Blackhawks scored five unanswered goals to beat the St. Louis Blues, 6-3, in Game 6 at the United Center. The series, tied at 3, goes back to St. Louis for Game 7 on Monday night.
“When we’re down 3-1, we had nothing to lose and the pressure was on them. And now it’s even more. So it’s one game,” coach Joel Quenneville said of Monday’s game, which will start at 7:30 p.m. “I know we have momentum, that’s what we’re looking to get: Let’s go in there and have some fun.”
The Blackhawks were having anything but fun after the first 20 minutes Saturday. Sure, they got the early lead that they wanted, thanks to Andrew Ladd. But 11 minutes into the first they were down 3-1; the Blues scored three goals in a span of four minutes, 42 seconds (Scottie Upshall, Alex Pietrangelo and Vladimir Tarasenko).
In the regular season, when the Blackhawks trailed after 20 minutes, they were 3-15-1. The first intermission was probably a trying time, but Corey Crawford said the Blackhawks’ mood never changed.
“Stays the same. Not much changed,” said Crawford, who stopped 25 of 28 shots in the victory. “Guys were excited to get back out there hungry. That’s a lot of character there. We battled back. We didn’t give up too many chances after that. The guys played awesome.”
Apparently the Blackhawks didn’t lose their cool. Their incredible second period was evidence of that. They outshot the Blues 19-6 and got three goals past Blues goaltender Brian Elliott. Artem Anisimov’s power-play goal cut the Blues’ lead to 3-2 just 4:13 into the second period. Trevor van Riemsdyk, off a great pass from Jonathan Toews, tied it at 3 at 12:21. Then Weise, after knocking down Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk behind the net, came back in front to score the go-ahead goal at 16:18.
“We didn’t get too down. We knew we just had to defend a little better,” Weise said. “We gave them too many odd-man rushes. They’ve got too many good players over there who can score on us. We just needed to defend better. We’ve got enough offense. We never have to worry about that. We started to defend, and we kind of fed off the crowd.”
Andrew Shaw, who was back after serving a one-game suspension, scored a power-play goal with 3:07 remaining, and Marian Hossa scored an empty-net goal to finish the game.
The Blackhawks were looking like their postseason was done 20 minutes into Game 6. But once again they somehow found a way to break through and force a Game 7. Do they complete the comeback? They did so against Detroit in the 2013 Western Conference semifinals. Or do the Blues regroup and close this out on their home ice? The Blackhawks are thrilled that they forced a Game 7, but they know there’s plenty of work ahead.
“We haven’t done anything yet, right? We just wanted to give ourselves a chance to get to a Game 7, and we achieved that. So now you gotta regroup and get ready for another big game,” Ladd said. “They’re a tough team, they’ve got a lot of pride over there, and we know they’re going to come out with their best game of the series. We’re going to have to be ready for that.”