We all thought this series would be going at least six, probably seven games. The way Vladimir Tarasenko and the Blues are playing, this thing likely doesn’t return to Chicago. Tarasenko scored two more goals and added an assist and Brian Elliott stopped another 39 of 42 shots from the Blackhawks.
The Blues seize control with a 4-3 win on Tuesday night at the United Center in Chicago. Up 3-1 in the series, the Blues have a chance to advance at home Thursday night.
While the games are close, the Blues are winning in all the key matchups. We all knew Elliott would need to continue his dominating play through the playoffs, which he has. The defense is doing a solid job of blocking shots and not turning the puck over. The back line is not only getting great play from their veterans, but rookie Colton Parayko has been solid. Tarasenko’s star power with his linemate Jori Lethera are outworking Chicago’s defense. Chicago’s stars, Patrick Kane (0 goals), rookie Artemi Panarin, who scored 30 during the regular season (0 goals) and captain Jonathan Toews (o goals) have come up empty.
The difference in these two games on the road has been the Blues’ powerplay. They were 4-for-7 in Chicago and with the late penalty to Andrew Shaw, the Blues looked like they added another powerplay goal into an empty netter, but it was ruled off sides. The Blues have a 33% success rate on the powerplay.
Tarasenko put the Blues up 1-0 when he fired a wrist shot from the face off dot over the glove of Corey Crawford. The Hawks lost track of Tarasenko and he found open ice on a nice pass from Lehtera. After the Hawks built some momentum with a 2-1 lead on goal from Shaw and Duncan Keith, Tarasenko scored the first power play of the night to tie it at 2-2. He called that the turning point of the game.
The Hawks got a spark when Crawford was run over Robby Fabbri as he went hard to the net following up two glorious scoring opportunities. Crawford took exception to the contact and went after Fabbri, starting a scrum in the corner. The Blues came out of it shorthanded and Keith’s goal put the Hawks on top.
Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said it looked like something out of minor league hockey.
Early in the third, the Blues went back on the powerplay and just 1:36 in, Jaden Schwartz finished giving the Blues the lead. Alex Steen followed off a turnover in the Hawks end, he buried a breakaway goal and the Blues were up 4-2.
Chicago made a late push as a shot from Keith, hit Tarasenko and floated over Elliot’s head to make it a 4-3 game. It was Keith’s second of the game and third of the playoffs. Shaw took a senseless interference penalty with just over two minutes to play, forcing the Hawks to play shorthanded the rest of the way.