A dominating second and a lead after 40 minutes: that’s usually been a great sign for the Blackhawks, who hadn’t lost a game in regulation with a lead after two periods since 2014.
But all streaks must end and the St. Louis Blues, who came back twice to beat the Blackhawks here in this regular season, did it to them again on Sunday.
Jaden Schwartz scored the game-winning power-play goal and Brian Elliott stopped 44 of 46 shots as the Blues upended the Blackhawks 3-2 in Game 3 of their first-round series on Sunday afternoon. The Blues take a 2-1 lead in the series, which continues Tuesday here at the United Center.
Corey Crawford stopped 33 of 36 in the loss.
The Blackhawks were 71-0-5 when leading after two since the 2014 postseason. So they felt pretty good after a very strong second period in which they peppered Elliott with 24 shots and took a 2-1 lead on Artem Anisimov’s goal.
But this Blues team wasn’t going away and thanks to another goal deflected off a Blackhawks player and taking advantage of Patrick Kane’s double-minor high-sticking, the Blues have put the Blackhawks back in a series hole.
“We’re in a great spot, probably had more chances in the second period than we had all year. Still a one-goal game, though. We tried to make a play and it ended up in our net, fortunate bounce by them. Then trying to get through a four-minute kill and they scored right off the bat,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “We had a couple of looks that could have been close but that was a tough loss.”
It was tough for Kane, too, who was frustrated and took responsibility for that high-sticking that led to Schwartz’s game winner.
“Just got to be smarter in that situation. Can’t take a penalty at that time of the game, especially when the game’s 2-2,” Kane said. “Still didn’t mind the way we were playing. Just a couple of bad bounces and a bad penalty.”
The Blackhawks couldn’t have gotten off to a better start. After Blues coach Ken Hitchcock warned his team about staying out of the penalty box, the Blues put the Blackhawks on three early power plays. The Blackhawks capitalized on their first advantage when Brent Seabrook laced a power-play goal through Elliott for a 1-0 Blackhawks lead just 2:18 into the game.
Colton Parayko tied the game with his power-play goal later in the first.
Then Anisimov got his first of the postseason, scoring after Artemi Panarin forced a Parayko turnover along the boards. That lead would remain until early in the third Patrik Berglund’s shot went off Michal Rozsival’s leg and past Crawford to tie it. Then came Kane’s penalty and Schwartz’s winner.
“Unfortunate turn of events in the third,” Jonathan Toews said. “But offensively, I think we can keep creating the way we have with the puck down low and working for those second chances and those rebounds around the net and just finding those ugly goals. At the other end of the rink we obviously have some improvements to make in managing the puck a little bit better.”
The Blackhawks were in a good and familiar position through two periods on Sunday. The Blues, however, had other ideas. The Blackhawks are familiar with being down in a series, including being down in a series to the Blues. They had a chance to finish the Blues off but couldn’t. Now they have to forget about this one and make sure the finish is there on Tuesday.
“All that’s important right now is the next game,” Crawford said. “It was loud in here. We had so [much] good momentum, good shifts and good plays in the offensive zone. We had some good looks. We’ve just got to carry those things into the next game.”