Blues edge Blackhawks in overtime to take Game 1

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Blues edge Blackhawks in overtime to take Game 1

ST. LOUIS – It really shouldn’t have been a surprise to anyone, right?

The Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues played close hockey games all regular season. Plus going to overtime in Game 1 seems to be a Blackhawks habit – this marked the fifth consecutive season their first game needed extra time.

But just like two years ago in their Game 1 matchup here, the Blackhawks came up short.

David Backes scored the deciding goal 9:04 into overtime and Brian Elliott stopped all 35 shots he saw as the St. Louis Blues beat the Blackhawks 1-0 in Game 1 of their first-round series on Wednesday night.

Corey Crawford stopped 17 of 18 shots in just his second game back from an upper-body injury. Backes’ shot, from an angle, hit off Trevor van Riemsdyk’s right skate and past Crawford.

“Yeah, obviously not what you want there. Tough break,” van Riemsdyk said afterward. “But we just have to come back ready for the next game.”

[SHOP: Gear up for the Stanley Cup playoffs, Blackhawks fans!]

It was a tough ending for the Blackhawks but not a debilitating one. They didn’t allow much – the Blues had just 18 shots in the game, including 16 through regulation. Their defense, minus Duncan Keith for the final game of his six-game suspension, played well overall.

“Well there are a lot of positives. I thought we did some good things, certainly had some good looks in the third period, some quality rush chances,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “It was a tight game. But we played exactly the right way and what we’re looking to and didn’t take advantage of the chances we had.”

Yes, some of those chances were on 5-on-5 and others were on the power play. You could’ve looked at both teams’ power plays in two ways: either the power plays failed or the penalty kills were great. It was likely a mix. Quenneville was OK with most of the power plays but didn’t like the last one, when Blues defenseman Colton Parayko sent the puck into the stands just seven seconds into overtime. The Blackhawks barely broke into the Blues’ zone and created nothing.

“I mean I think we saw some pretty good penalty killing by bot teams. Give them credit. But we can move the puck quicker, take our shots and take our chances when we have them and try to generate off the second efforts. That’s how we’ll score goals in the series,” Jonathan Toews said. “When the pucks were lying around we didn’t find them. It’s about settling down and calming down on that power play and just playing with more composure and with our heads up. When we start making those plays things will start happening more.”

The Blackhawks liked a lot of what they did on Wednesday: except the ending. They realize they had ample opportunities to turn that finish to their favor. They wanted to try and sweep the Blues on the road these first two games. Now that opportunity is lost, they’ll go for the split. And to do that, they’ll need the finish in Game 2 that they didn’t have in Game 1.

“There’s not a big difference playing St. Louis (in Round 1) and playing Tampa in the finals. It’s so even nowadays — all eight playoff teams are so close to each other. It’s like a Stanley Cup Final right away,” Niklas Hjalmarsson said. “St. Louis is one of the best teams in the league. We’re up for a big task here.”

Getting to know four newly-signed Blackhawks


Getting to know four newly-signed Blackhawks

The Blackhawks announced Monday that they have officially agreed to terms with forward Dominik Kahun, defensemen Lucas Carlsson and Darren Raddysh and goaltender Kevin Lankinen on entry-level contracts.

Kahun ($925,000 cap hit), Lankinen ($925,000) and Raddysh ($730,000) each signed two-year deals that run through the 2019-20 season while Carlsson's is a three-year deal that runs through the 2020-21 campaign and carries a cap hit of $792,500.

So who are these guys? Let's meet them:


Drafted in the fourth round (No. 110 overall) by the Blackhawks in 2016, Carlsson set a career-high with 17 points (seven goals, 10 assists) in 44 games this season with Brynäs IF of the Swedish Hockey League. He was tied for fourth among all blue liners with seven goals.

Carlsson, 20, doesn't have major upside, but he's a reliable, well-rounded defenseman and that's what drew the attention of Blackhawks vice president of amateur scouting Mark Kelley.

“When he’s on the ice, he makes things happen," Kelley told Scott Powers of The Athletic last summer. "I think what impressed the Sweden under-20 coach was Lucas’ ability to challenge in all three zones. He’s an active defensively. Offensively, he challenges. He keeps plays alive.”


The 22-year-old forward spent the last four seasons with EHC München of the Deutsche Eishockey Liga, Germany's top professional hockey league, where he established career highs in assists (29), points (41) and tied a personal best with 12 goals, leading Munchen to their third straight championship in 2018 after recording four goals and 10 assists in 17 playoff contests.

He raised eyebrows at the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang, where he compiled five points (two goals, three assists) in seven games and won 55.4 percent of his faceoffs (41 of 74), helping Germany capture a silver medal.

“He has made an enormous step this year, has become much more stable and mature," German national team coach Marco Sturm said after the Olympics. "I am sure that he would grab it in the NHL,” Sturm told the Hamburger Morgenpost.

Most recently, Kahun had a goal and two assists in seven games for Germany during the IIHF Men's World Championship. He's 5-foot-11, 176 pounds whose known to be a solid two-way player and can play center but may need some time to adjust to the smaller ice surface and NHL style of speed and physicality.


Lankinen is 23 years old and coming off a season in which he was in the discussion for the Urpo Ylönen trophy, annually awarded to the top goaltender of the Finnish Elite League, after registering a league-best 1.33 goals against average and .946 save percentage in 15 games with HIFK.

He missed a large portion of the season because of an injury, but it didn't stop him from turning in a strong postseason, guiding his team to a bronze medal after posting a 1.99 GAA and .936 save percentage in 13 playoff games. The year before that, he led the league with seven shutouts in 42 games, backstopping his team to a silver medal.

This is a low-risk, medium-sized reward signing for the Blackhawks, who could use some more young goaltending depth in the pipeline, especially given how this season unfolded with the big club.


The Blackhawks signed Raddysh to a one-year AHL contract last June, and he turned it into an NHL one after a strong season with the Rockford IceHogs.

Raddysh, 22, accumulated 22 points (five goals, 17 assists) in 66 regular-season games with the IceHogs, and has appeared in each of the team's playoff games en route to the Western Conference Final.

Last season Raddysh was named the OHL's top defenseman after scoring 16 goals and 65 assists for 81 points in 62 games for the Erie Otters, where he was teammates with current Blackhawks winger Alex DeBrincat. He's the Otters' all-time leader in assists (143) and points (184) among defensemen.

Raddysh might be nothing more than a depth defenseman, but his development is worth monitoring because the offensive production is there and that's something the Blackhawks lacked this past season from their back end.

Blackhawks winger Marian Hossa: 'I will not play hockey anymore'


Blackhawks winger Marian Hossa: 'I will not play hockey anymore'

Days after putting his Gold Coast condo on the market, Blackhawks winger Marian Hossa revealed to a Slovakian newspaper that he is moving back to his hometown country and doesn't plan on returning to the NHL.

"I will not play hockey anymore," said Hossa, who missed the entire 2017-18 campaign due to a progressive skin disorder and the side effects of the medications involved to treat it. "I have a valid contract with Chicago for the next three years, but I have only one health and it does not allow me to return."

Because he has three years left on a deal that carries a $5.275 million cap hit, Hossa is not expected to sign his retirement papers until the contract is completed or else it would result in salary cap consequences.

The news is not surprising, but it officially allows the Blackhawks to move on without him in the fold roster-wise and toy around with some options this summer.

The first is stashing his contract on long-term injured reserve, as they did last season when they utilized the in-season preference.

The second, which Hossa wondered could happen, is finding a trade partner that would absorb the remainder of his contract, usually done by lower payroll teams aiming to reach the cap floor.

And it wouldn't be difficult trying to find a buyer, considering Hossa's actual salary is $1 million per year over the next three seasons. Hossa, of course, has a no movement clause but it's likely he would waive it given his status at this point.

The good news for Chicago is, the three-time Stanley Cup winner didn't rule out joining the Blackhawks organization in some capacity after his contract expires in 2020-21, whether it's in a front office role or as a team ambassador.

In 19 NHL seasons, Hossa accumulated 525 goals and 609 assists for 1,134 points in 1,309 regular-season games, and added 149 points (52 goals, 97 assists) in 205 postseason contests. He's one of 45 players in league history to net at least 500 goals in his career.