The Blackhawks scored on a second-period power play, an advantage nobody’s certain how they got, to take a 2-1 lead.
It got the United Center cheering. It could have left the St. Louis Blues reeling. But once again the Blues shook off any frustration they felt and started scoring.
Vladimir Tarasenko scored twice and Brian Elliott stopped 39 of 42 shots as the St. Louis Blues beat the Blackhawks 4-3 in Game 4 of their first-round series on Tuesday night.
The Blues took a 3-1 series lead heading back to St. Louis, where they have the chance to eliminate the Blackhawks in Game 5 on Thursday.
In the end, it was the Blackhawks who looked frustrated. Trailing 4-3 with just over two minutes remaining in regulation, Andrew Shaw took a roughing penalty basically taking away any chance the Blackhawks had of tying the game.
The Blackhawks took a 2-1 lead on a power play that was surprising, to say the least.
Jonathan Toews pushed Robby Fabbri into Corey Crawford, who went after Fabbri. The two fought in the corner and other scrums soon ensued. But somehow the Blackhawks ended up with the power play – Fabbri was called for goaltender interference and Alex Pietrangelo and Kevin Shattenkirk were called for roughing, while Crawford and Andrew Ladd also got roughing penalties. Duncan Keith’s goal gave the Blackhawks that lead 13:09 into the second period.
“We were in a great spot. We got the momentum, had some zone time and had some great chances in the second period,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “Power play and they made a great shot and they’re in the ballgame again. But it’s still a hockey game.”
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It was still a hockey game when Tarasenko scored his second goal, a power-play effort, to tie the game, 2-2. It soon became a little more one-sided for the Blues. Jaden Schwartz added a power-play goal of his own early in the third period and Alex Steen intercepted a Trevor van Riemsdyk pass and broke free to give the Blues a 4-2 lead.
Duncan Keith scored with about five minutes remaining in regulation but Andrew Shaw took a roughing penalty with just over two minutes remaining in the game. That pretty much sealed it.
“We’ve got to be smart. It’s just makes it tougher on us,” Keith said of the Blackhawks. “We’re trying to compete. It’s tough. I mean, sometimes it’s just, I don’t know. I don’t get into that. Two minutes left in the game, everyone’s battling out there and we’re killing a penalty. I didn’t see the call. It’s tough to comment on it. Shawzy’s battling. He’s battling all year. He competes hard in the playoffs and that’s what we want. That’s what we need out of him. I don’t think we blame him at all. It’s trying to get to the net and they call some things and they don’t. It is what it is.”
Now the Blackhawks are in a tough spot.
Yes, they were down 3-1 in playoff series in 2013 and again in 2014 – they came back to beat the Detroit Red Wings in 2013 but fell to the Los Angeles Kings in 2014. But this team feels different. The Blues seem to be the one in control with the Blackhawks struggling and losing their usual cool. They have a chance to force Game 6 on Thursday. They’ll have to bring more than they did on Tuesday to do that.
“Gotta play smart, gotta be disciplined,” Quenneville said. “Gotta play the right way and try to be stingy.”