ST. LOUIS – Corey Crawford could see from the other side of the ice that Patrick Kane had a chance to win it, the loose puck near St. Louis Blues goaltender Brian Elliott.
“Felt like that puck was sitting in the crease for like 20 seconds,” Crawford said with a smile afterward.
But somewhere within the 20 seconds it felt like, Kane was once again knocking home a playoff game-winner.
Kane’s wraparound came 3:07 into the second overtime and Crawford stopped 43 of 46 shots as the Blackhawks beat the Blues 4-3 on Thursday night. The Blackhawks stave off elimination and will host Game 6 at 7 p.m. on Saturday. It wasn’t the tidiest postseason victory for the Blackhawks – they went up 3-1 at the end of two periods, only to watch the Blues come back and tie it 3-3 and force overtime. But they’ll take it.
“I don’t know if that’s the way we drew it up. It would have been nice to hang onto that lead. But what can you do? Kaner came through,” said Duncan Keith, who played 42 minutes on Thursday. “I thought they probably carried a lot of the play in the first overtime. But it just matters that we got the goal.”
Kane got that goal, his first of the postseason, on a second effort. Blues goaltender Brian Elliott got part of Kane’s first shot and the puck slid through the blue paint. But with Elliott out of position, Kane came from behind the net for the wraparound winner.
Yes, the Blues were the dominant team in the first overtime. They kept the momentum they built in the third period and fired 11 shots on Crawford, who stopped them all.
“I think before that overtime I was trying to tell myself to play with confidence and I wasn’t very good the first four periods, had a couple good shifts there, had a couple chances, almost banged a couple away there,” Kane said. “The first wraparound, Hammer had a good chance and Pans made a great pass to me there in the slot, tried to make a move, get something on the net. I was fortunate enough to see it squeak over to the side there and try to jam it in.”
The Blackhawks were feeling more comfortable after the second period, when Artemi Panarin had a goal – which came with 0.4 seconds remaining in the period – and an assist, and Artem Anisimov and Marian Hossa (shorthanded) also scored. But that was all erased in the third period by the Blues, who had come back to win Game 4 and looked ready to do the same in Game 5. Robby Fabbri scored about seven minutes into the third and David Backes redirected an Alex Pietrangelo shot to tie it 3-3 with five minutes remaining in regulation.
But the Blackhawks didn’t buckle and Crawford’s work in the first overtime gave them a chance in the second.
“We just keep playing the game. Don’t really try to think about too much,” Niklas Hjalmarsson said. “It’s an elimination game. We all know it in the back of our heads but all we can do is to give a great effort and play our heart out. I think we did a good job of that today.”
The Blackhawks found a way to extend thisseries. They’ll try to do that again on Saturday night. That puck seemed to sit near Elliott for a while but the Blackhawks’ wait once again ended with a big goal from Kane.
“Yeah, everyone’s been playing well all series,” Crawford said. “Chances are hard to come by, you have to fight for them, and that’s what our guys did.”