Alexander Steen scored the game-winner 26 seconds into triple overtime, as the St. Louis Blues battled back to beat the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks 4-3 in Game 1 of their Western Conference Quarterfinal series at Scottrade Center.
St. Louis seemed destined to drop Game 1 as it trailed by a goal late in regulation, but Jaden Schwartz found the equalizer with 1:45 left in the third to force an extra session.
After a pair of entertaining overtimes, Steen ended the longest game in Blues history when he scored from point-blank range off a nice set up from Steve Ott to give St. Louis a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven set.
“We know stuff is going to happen,” Steen said. “We might get down, might be up in the series, and we just stick with it and keep playing.”
Adam Cracknell and Vladimir Tarasenko also scored for the Blues, who dropped their final six regular-season games to fall into second place in the Central Division heading into the postseason.
“I think the players really put a lot into this because they didn’t want this season to just kind of wilt away,” St. Louis head coach Ken Hitchcock said, referring to his team’s struggles down the stretch in the regular season. “They’re going to put up a fight here.”
Ryan Miller allowed three goals on seven shots in the first period but turned aside the final 35 shots he faced to help St. Louis hang on for the victory.
Brent Seabrook notched a goal and an assist, while Johnny Oduya and Patrick Kane potted a goal apiece for the Blackhawks, who received 48 saves from Corey Crawford.
Game 2 is slated for Saturday in St. Louis.
On the deciding goal, David Backes charged through the neutral zone and across the Chicago blue line before dishing to Steen, who fired a shot from the right point that Crawford turned aside.
The rebound trickled behind the net, where Backes recovered it before throwing a no-look feed to the low right side for Ott, who settled the puck with a quick touch before a cutting Steen sent it home for the game winner.
Early on, Kane, who missed the final 12 games of the regular season with a lower-body injury, capped a high-scoring first period by breaking a 2-2 deadlock when he converted a breakaway off a slick stretch pass from Jonathan Toews with just 1:36 left in the period.
The reigning Conn Smythe Trophy winner Kane beat Miller with a wicked wrister from the slot, but it was the last time the puck found the back of the St. Louis cage.
“I know we had a couple power plays where we could have maybe scored and made it 4-2 which would have been nice,” Kane said of his team failing to score after the first period. “It definitely would have been nice to get another one and give us a little insurance.”
After being outshot 8-3 in a scoreless second stanza, St. Louis stormed back in the third, but the Blues couldn’t get anything past Crawford until the closing minutes of the contest.
With just under two minutes left in regulation, Derek Roy came up with a steal behind the Chicago net and touched the puck to Schwartz, who stuffed a backhander under Crawford’s pads from the low left side to tie the game.
Chicago failed to capitalize on a power play with just under seven minutes left in the first extra session and then saw Maxim Lapierre make a save from his knees in the crease late in the frame to keep the tilt tied.
Each team failed on a power-play chance in the second overtime before Steen ended the contest under 30 seconds into the third extra session.
Earlier in the game, Cracknell swatted one home from the crease 4:40 into the game to get the Blues on the board, but the Blackhawks scored twice in under 3 1/2 minutes later in the frame to grab the lead.
Oduya snuck a wrister through Miller’s five-hole from the left circle at 11:14 before Seabrook’s one-timer from the right circle sailed past Miller with Chicago on the power play at 14:39 to make it 2-1.
Tarasenko, who had been sidelined since the middle of March due to a right hand injury, retied the tilt just 1:13 later when he one-timed a cross-ice feed from Kevin Shattenkirk into the back of the net at 15:52.
Kane’s breakaway goal sent the Blackhawks into the second with a 3-2 lead.