Andrew Shaw tallied 1 goal, 1 assist in 5-1 win over Blues on Sunday
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By Jon Fromi
The Chicago Blackhawks put on a clinic in the third period of Game 6, much to the dismay of the St. Louis Blues. The Hawks ripped the hearts out of the Blues with a furious final 20 minutes, sending the Blues home to clean out their lockers with a 5-1 victory.
Chicago wins this Western Conference first-round series 4-2 and completed a sweep of St. Louis after falling two games behind the Blues. Duncan Keith helped pace the Hawks with a four-point afternoon as five different Blackhawks posted goals in the deciding game.
First Period-The Hawks won the opening draw but it was St. Louis with the early offense with three shots on goal in the first two minutes. In the fourth minute, Corey Crawford stopped a Vladimir Tarasenko deflection of Alex Pietrangelo shot.
Chicago got the scoring started 4:12 into the game after Jonathan Toews won a draw in the Blues zone over Maxim Lapierre. Duncan Keith made a nice hold in the zone, after which the Hawks moved the puck around looking for an opportunity. Returning defenseman Brent Seabrook tossed a shot toward Ryan Miller. Bryan Bickell got a stick on the shot and sent the puck past Miller, giving Chicago a 1-0 advantage.
After a media timeout, Patrick Sharp was open heading to the left post and received a pass from Michal Rozsival. Sharp’s stick was lifted and the scoring chance passed. Soon after, Tarasenko came toward the Chicago net with numbers and was hooked by Marcus Kruger. The Blues went on the power play 7:51 into the opening period.
With Kruger in the box, the Hawks came up with a nice kill, limiting St. Louis to a single shot on goal. Chicago then went back on the attack. Brandon Saad, Andrew Shaw and Patrick Kane had a nice shift together, as did the top line of Jonathan Toews, Bickell and Marian Hossa.
Saad made a strong move around the net in the 14th minute with Keith holding the puck in the Blues zone on two occasions on the shift. Bickell got to a loose puck a moment later and fired on Miller, though the Blues’ goalie absorbed the shot.
The Blues evened the score after Chicago failed to clear the zone after a Jay Bouwmeester slapper in the 17th minute. Alexander Steen brought the puck around the Hawks net and found T.J. Oshie waiting in front of Crawford. The attempt zipped past Crawford to Oshie’s surprise, making it 1-1 with 3:12 remaining.
Kruger was called for his second penalty of the period when he held Vladimir Sobotka with 2:34 left in the first. Chicago’s PK unit handled its business and the first 20 minutes ended with the game all square.
Second Period-The Blues had some early chances when Oshie found himself in the Hawks zone on a shift change. Crawford knocked a couple of shots away. The Chicago second line had a nice shift in the offensive zone but a Ben Smith centering pass didn’t connect. 3:50 into the second period, Toews caught Steen with his stick and the Hawks were in PK mode for the third time in the game.
There were some tense moments, including the puck sliding along the goal line but not across early in the penalty. However, Chicago denied the Blues the go-ahead tally, giving up a single shot on the power play.
A Sharp turnover led to a scoring chance for St. Louis but Crawford stopped Steen’s attempt. Shortly thereafter, Hossa got a stick under Steen’s visor and the Blues had more four minutes on the man advantage with 7:15 gone in the period.
Chicago caught a break after Steen slashed Seabrook at the 11:37 mark. The Hawks held their own in the 4-on-4 time, them held firm to kill the remaining power play time.
Sharp got off a shot from the right circle that was sent away by Miller in the 13th minute. Crawford stopped a Barrett Jackman shot in the 16th minute and the Hawks prevented Lapierre or Ryan Reaves from knocking in the rebound.
With 4:13 to go in the second period, Sharp was called for tripping Jaden Schwartz along the boards. A Tarasenko shot was covered by Crawford. The play was reviewed after the puck wound up in the Hawks net but the whistle had sounded well before the puck crossed the goal line. The Blues hammered at the Chicago net but came up empty.
Bouwmeester held Saad in the corner with 55 seconds left, giving the Hawks their first power play of the afternoon. The period ended with Chicago still up a man and the score tied 1-1.
Third Period-After having initial difficulty entering the offensive zone on the remainder of the power play, the Blackhawks drew twine to start the final 20 minutes.
Duncan Keith barely kept the puck in the Blues zone, then found Toews at the right circle. The captain bided his time and worked to the middle of the ice, where he sent a zinger past a screened Miller 44 seconds into the period. Chicago’s first shot on goal resulted in a 2-1 lead.
Sharp doubled the Hawks lead just over a minute later after he lost a faceoff in the defensive zone to Steve Ott. Blocking a shot attempt by Kevin Shattenkirk, Patrick Sharp won a race to the puck in the neutral zone and streaked to the St. Louis net. Shattenkirk hooked Sharp in the face before he could attempt a shot. However, Miller, who looked to be attempting a poke check on the potential shot, whiffed on the sliding puck. The biscuit slid across the goal line at the 2:01 mark to make the score 3-1 Chicago.
Blues coach Ken Hitchcock called his timeout following Sharp’s first goal of the playoffs. Chicago kept the pressure on as Saad drew a hooking call on Sobotka with 2:56 gone in the third. The Hawks couldn’t increase the lead on the resulting power play but it was all Chicago in the first five minutes of the period.
Hossa and Toews nearly hooked up for a scoring chance but Toews couldn’t complete a toe drag. Still, Chicago was dominating the action and would find the net again.
Setting up in the offensive zone, Keith took possession of the puck and sent a lazer toward Miller. This time, Andrew Shaw was at the front of the net for the redirect, lighting the lamp 7:30 into the period to make it 4-1 Chicago.
The Hawks continued to monopolize possession through the mid-point of the period, cycling the puck in the Blues zone and keeping St. Louis pinned behind its own blue line. Bickell led an odd man rush in the 11th minute and sent a shot toward the net that Miller stopped. Shaw sent a puck to Saad for a breakaway attempt that Miller denied, but Chicago was doing a great job keeping the puck far from its net.
Unlike previous games in the series, the Hawks carried the puck into the St. Louis zone and forced the Blues to work all the way up the ice to generate offense. The Blues found the going mighty tough as the sands began to run out on their season.
The final dagger came when Shaw and Keith bore down on Miller on yet another odd-man rush. Keith took the pass and batted home the fifth Chicago goal with 2:55 remaining. The United Center fans stood as one in the final minute and bathed the Blackhawks in thunderous adulation as the Blues were eliminated from the playoffs.
Three Stars-Toews (third), Crawford (second), Keith (first)
-Well, at least the eerie comparisons to the Blues exit last season can end. L.A. beat St. Louis 2-1 to complete a 0-2 comeback. It was 2-1 on Sunday, just not for very long.
-In case anyone hasn’t picked up on this…Crawford was the better goalie in this series. Period. Crow stopped 17 shots in the middle frame to maintain the tie score, anchored a PK that shut out the Blues for 12 minutes and saved 35 of 36 St. Louis attempts. After taking responsibility for the two losses in St. Louis (which was far from deserved), Crow stepped up and played shut down hockey in net.
-To the Blues credit, they didn’t goon it up in the final minutes even when the game was hopelessly out of reach. They did out-hit the Hawks 43-22, but that was because they seldom had possession for big stretches of the contest.
-After watching Chicago back into their own zone and let the Blues hammer away in earlier games in the series, how awesome was it to see the Hawks come out and aggressively take advantage of the pressing St. Louis defensemen?
-Joel Quenneville sat Kris Versteeg for Game 6. The new guy in the lineup…Joakim Nordstrom. Jeremy Morin just can’t catch a break.
-Neither Brandon Bollig nor Nordstrom played in the second period. The two combined for less than four minutes of ice time. Michal Handzus was on the ice at even strength for just 3:54. I have no problem in Q shortening the bench, but what’s the point in sitting Versteeg if that’s going to be the case?
-Hopefully Minnesota takes the Avalanche to seven games, giving Chicago skaters a much-needed rest after a hard-fought opening round.
Lines (The blender was set on high Sunday)