Toews goal beats Blues in overtime

News-DemocratApril 26, 2014 

— In a playoff series where the slightest mistakes have made the biggest difference, the Chicago Blackhawks seized a major opportunity Friday.

The Blackhawks got a breakaway goal from Jonathan Toews 7 minutes, 36 seconds into overtime to beat the St. Louis Blues 3-2 before a sellout crowd of 19,796 at Scottrade Center.

Toews gave the Blackhawks their third straight win in the best-of-seven series after losing the first two games. Four of the first five games have gone to overtime.

There was a big rebound of a shot by Blues captain David Backes and Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith whisked the puck quickly ahead and it glanced off the shin pad of Chicago's Andrew Shaw before deflecting to Toews near center ice.

With the Blues in a line change, Blues defenseman Jordan Leopold tried to chase Toews down. Toews continued his path to the net, then tucked a backhander around Blues goalie Ryan Miller.

"I wasn't even sure where their D-men were," Toews said. "Just got going as fast as I could and took advantage of a chance."

After all the missed opportunities -- and missed shots --by the Blues earlier in the game, Toews' goal left a giant cloud of frustration hanging over Scottrade Center.

"What's pouting gonna do?" Blues forward Alexander Steen said. "You just get back on the horse. It's a game. You have to win four. They have three, we have two. Off to Chicago we go. See you there."

Blues defenseman Roman Polak had just left the ice on a line change, replaced by Jay Bouwmeester.

"I just saw Backes skating with the puck," Polak said. "I saw Toews jumping on the ice there, so I went to change but I don't know what happened after. ... It was a lucky bounce or something.

"That's just a lucky bounce and we have to bounce back against Chicago."

Miller declined to comment during the postgame media session.

Blues coach Ken Hitchcock offered his own assessment.

"Yeah, they got a break," he said. "Instead of us shooting it in the net on the rebound, it popped over our stick, we didn't protect the (line) change. We were on the outside of the rink instead of the inside. Instead of going in their net, it went in our net."

The resulting break was all the Blackhawks needed to force an elimination game Sunday in Game 6 in Chicago.

"It seems against a team that's got this type of finish, you make a big error, you pay for it," Hitchcock said.

The Blues tied a franchise record by playing four overtime games in the same series. They also did it in 1999 against Dallas and in 1968 against Minnesota.

Blues defenseman Barret Jackman talked about the incredible level of intensity.

"It's been great. I don't think anybody expected anything less," he said. "The level of hockey that's been played, they're all one-goal games and are going right down to the final buzzer. Four overtime games is unlike anything I've ever seen."

After being stopped on a point-blank shot earlier, Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo took a pass from Jaden Schwartz and finished off a 2-on-1 rush. His first goal of the playoffs tied it 2-2 just 1 minute, 42 seconds into the third period.

The Blues failed to capitalize on a 2-on-1 chance midway through the third period. T.J. Oshie had the puck on his stick staring at an empty net, but hesitated just a bit and Crawford was able to dive across and get a piece of it with his stick.

The Blackhawks also had several golden opportunities for the go-ahead goal in the third period. One of the best came when Miller robbed Patrick Kane with 3:55 remaining in regulation.

The frustrating offensive night by the Blues included 29 shots, 15 that missed the net entirely and 21 others that were blocked. In the series, the Blues have 179 shots, have missed the net 82 times and 102 shots have been blocked by the Blackhawks.

The Blues are just 2-for-23 on the power play.

A highlight-reel goal by Oshie in the second period temporarily wiped out a 1-0 deficit, but Chicago scored again before the period ended to regain the lead.

Ben Smith's goal with 2:50 remaining in the second period put the Blackhawks on top 2-1. Chicago entered Friday having won the previous two games after dropping the first two games at Scottrade Center.

The Blues had won all five previous meetings between the teams at Scottrade Center this season.

Oshie was set up in the slot by Steen, who took a hit by Chicago's Bryan Bickell to get it done. Oshie headed left and easily faked out defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson.

Oshie was falling to the ice before staying on his knees just long enough to direct a backhander just over the stick of Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford.

It was his third career playoff goal and came at the 11:04 mark of the second period, tying the game 1-1.

Marian Hossa's first-period goal spoiled the return of Blues captain David Backes and gave Chicago an early lead.

Both teams had good chances early with Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk firing one wide on a break-in and Chicago's Patrick Sharp shattering his stick after heading in alone.

Marian Hossa's first goal of the series put the Blackhawks o top with 3:49 remaining in the opening period.

Polak was pinching in at the right point when Bickell swiped the puck and headed the other way on a 2-on-1.

Contact reporter Norm Sanders at 239-2454, nsanders@bnd.com or follow him on Twitter: @NormSanders

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