Blues put Blackhawks' backs against the wall

Blues put Blackhawks' backs against the wall

It wouldn't be a Blackhawks-Blues series without some sort of physical altercation playing a large role in the outcome of a game.

It took a while, but that moment came in Game 4 on two separate occasions.

The first happened midway through the second period of a 1-1 tie when Corey Crawford took exception to the fact Blues forward Robby Fabbri nearly bulldozed the Blackhawks goaltender, but got enough of him to trigger an emotional response from Crawford.

Crawford got up, skated to the corner where Fabbri had slid to and initiated a scuffle, waking up a restless United Center crowd of 22,212.

"That looked like something out of the Western Hockey League," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock joked after Tuesday's win.

"I felt like I got pushed from behind," Fabbri said of the play. "I tried to do my best to fall away from him. I guess he didn't like that.

"A little surprised at first and then we just got in a little jousting match there," Fabbri continued, discussing the aftermath. "That's playoff hockey. There's a lot of emotions flying around. That's what happened.

"There's not much I can do there. Just protect myself. I thought I did my best to try and avoid him, but like I said, he wasn't too happy after that."

[RELATED: Blackhawks can't keep momentum in Game 4 loss to Blues]

The Blackhawks, somehow, came out of that with a power play opportunity and converted thanks to a Duncan Keith goal — his first of two on the night — giving his team a 2-1 lead.

The momentum had quickly shifted back into Chicago's favor, but Vladimir Tarasenko had other plans. He scored his third goal of the series — second of the game, and eighth against the Blackhawks this year, counting the regular season — to even up the score, and the Blues wouldn't look back.

They went on to score two more in the opening five minutes of the third period, and sealed the deal on a 4-3 win to take a commanding 3-1 series lead back home to St. Louis.

"This is a great group," Blues captain David Backes said. "We're more cohesive, playing for each other, doing the right things all over the ice than we've ever had in this locker room. ... I've seen it for four straight games, and it's solidified what I said before: We've got all hands on deck, everyone bought in and doing what it takes. It's only building our belief system now, all the success we've had."

Hitchcock echoed those sentiments.

"I don't know if it's Chicago, we just have a belief that we can beat anybody," he said, then referenced the resiliency they've had to face all season long with their injuries. "We know we're up against a formidable opponent. I said to you before, there are some things that happen during the year that force you to go one way or another and what happened to us earlier in the year forced us to go one way, and we went the right way.

"There's a group of togetherness in there that's strong, and we're going to need it. We're going to need it to win this series, and we're going to need it every shift. We've been able to draw upon it when we needed it because we had no choice for six weeks."

The Blackhawks have trailed a series 3-1 five times under head coach Joel Quenneville. They've come back to win in one of those.

The finish line for eliminating the defending champions is so close, yet so far away, especially for a team that squandered a 2-0 series lead the last time these two teams met in the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs.

"It felt good," Tarasenko said of winning both games in Chicago. "We know this feels good, especially in this building. We know they come back from this situation a lot of times. And we need to forget about this game tomorrow and try to prepare for the next one."

[MORE: Five Things from Blackhawks-Blues Game 4]

Oh, and the second altercation of the night?

The one at the final horn, which was a carry-over from the interference penalty committed by Andrew Shaw with 2:04 remaining.

The Blackhawks strongly disagreed with it.

Shaw slammed his water bottle on the ground when he got inside the penalty box, not because he was frustrated with himself, but with the actual call itself.

Jonathan Toews pleaded to the official until he had to take the faceoff in his own zone.

Quenneville said after the game, "The consistency went out the window with that call."

When the third-period buzzer sounded, Shaw, who had exited the box in the final seconds, sparked a line brawl, where the majority of the 140 minutes of penalty time came from.

And it surely won't be forgotten when the Blues look to end the Blackhawks' chances of repeating Thursday night in Game 5.

"This is so much fun, this series," Hitchcock said. "It is a lot of fun. To coach in something like this where you can literally remove yourself from the emotion because the players on both sides are taking care of everything. This is fun. This is what hockey's about. This is why you coach, this is why you play.

"Both teams are going at it, they're leaving everything on the ice. Whatever happens, happens. We want to win this series, they want to win this series, I just want to see our players play as well as they can and play with as much grit as they can, and that's what they're trying to do. We're trying to keep up with the pace here."

Capitals' Devante Smith-Pelly speaks out about 'racially charged chanting' at United Center

Capitals' Devante Smith-Pelly speaks out about 'racially charged chanting' at United Center

After being on the receiving end of some racist taunts while he was in the penalty box during Saturday's game against the Blackhawks, Capitals winger Devante Smith-Pelly spoke publicly about the incident.

Smith-Pelly, a 25-year-old Canadian, reacted to the fans while he was in the box, going up to them from the other side of the glass. He addressed questions from the media about the incident on Sunday.

"I just heard some chanting, some, I guess, racially charged chanting," Smith-Pelly said. "You can tell by my reaction that I got pretty upset.

"What was said this time around crossed the line."

The Capitals released a statement about the incident:

"The Washington Capitals are extremely disappointed by the intolerant behavior extended toward Devante Smith-Pelly by a select group of fans during Saturday night's game against the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center. The Capitals organization strives to be inclusive and has zero tolerance concerning any form of racism. Such behavior is unacceptable and has no place in hockey or society. As such, it is crucial to confront such appalling conduct, and the Capitals extend their appreciation to the Blackhawks organization and United Center security for swiftly removing the fans from the game."

The Blackhawks released a statement after the game with a similar tone.

Smith-Pelly said this has happened previously in his career.

"It's sad that in 2018 we're still talking about the same thing over and over," Smith-Pelly said. "It's sad that athletes like myself 30, 40 years ago were standing in the same spot saying the same thing. You'd think there'd be some sort of change or progression, but we're still working towards it I guess and we're going to keep working towards it."

The Capitals released the full interview.

Blackhawks release statement following incident that happened during game vs. Capitals


Blackhawks release statement following incident that happened during game vs. Capitals

Four fans at the United Center were thrown out of Saturday's Blackhawks game for taunting Washington Capitals forward Devante Smith-Pelly with racist remarks.

Midway through the third period, Smith-Pelly, who is black, was in the penalty box when fans shouted "basketball, basketball, basketball" at him, the Washington Post reported.

Here is a GIF of Smith-Pelly's interaction with the fans:

After the game, the Blackhawks released this statement:

Capitals head coach Barry Trotz also had this to say about the incident: