ST. LOUIS – A split: the Blackhawks made it clear after a close Game 1 that they wanted that heading back to Chicago. They achieved it, albeit in the most interesting ways.
But enough of the lead-in. You’re tired and we have to get up early in the morning to get back home. So before we pack it up for the night, let’s look at Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ 3-2 victory over the St. Louis Blues.
1. A tale of two coach’s challenges. The Blues thought Andrew Shaw interfered with goaltender Brian Elliott on his power-play goal, but officials didn’t see it their way. The goal counted, and the Blackhawks had a critical lead. The Blackhawks also won an offside challenge earlier, taking Vladimir Tarasenko’s would-be goal away. The process isn’t perfect – many, including Quenneville earlier this season, have said they’re not sure what is/isn’t a goal with the goaltender interference challenge. But for this night, at least, the Blackhawks will take the ruling.
2. Duncan Keith’s impact. Everyone knew he’d make one in his first game back from suspension, and he couldn’t have scored his first goal of this postseason at a better time. His goal with 3.2 seconds remaining in the second period gave the Blackhawks life, and their first goal in this postseason. Keith played one tick under 31 minutes, recording four shots a goal and an assist. “He’s a horse back there, so useful in all areas and he’s a threat in a lot of different ways,” Quenneville said. “They scored a big goal for us. That broke the goose egg and we got a big lift off that.”
3. Another great night for the goaltenders. The game may have ended 3-2 but one was an empty-net goal and another was scored with one second remaining in regulation. Both Elliott and Corey Crawford were tremendous again on Friday night, keeping their teams in another closely contested and low-scoring game.
4. Getting the greasy goal. Shaw’s goal was looking like it would be the game winner until Kevin Shattenkirk’s late score gave Artemi Panarin’s empty netter that honor. But Shaw scored the type of goal the Blackhawks are going to need more of in this series: greasy and close on the net. Shaw was there when Keith scored his, too, setting a screen. As Jonathan Toews said of Shaw’s work, “the rest of us can take notes on that. Doesn’t matter who it is, we need guys in front of the net. We had a lot of point shots tonight. Even if they’re going wide, we can get sticks on them, bounces off the end wall. Something’s going to happen when you have guys there.”
5. It’s only going to get better. This series is already pretty intense and that level will grow as the stakes get higher. Listen, whether or not you like the Blues they’re a great foil for the Blackhawks. From hits to great penalty kills to better goaltending, this series has been tremendous through just two games. “Yeah it’s the playoff series already,” Shaw said. “You can feel the intensity and how everyone wants it and how hard everyone’s working. You expect that the rest of the series as well.”