Friday, April 18, 2014
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Steen, Blues Top Blackhawks In Triple OT

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[April 18, 2014]  ST. LOUIS  As soon as Ken Hitchcock saw the puck hit left winger Alexander Steen's stick, the St. Louis Blues coach knew what was going to happen.

"Steen is not going to miss from the ladies' tee there," Hitchcock said.

Steen, who led the Blues with 33 goals in the regular season, converted a pass from behind the net from right winger Steve Ott 26 seconds into the third overtime Thursday night, giving the Blues a 4-3 win over the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 1 of their first-round Western Conference playoff series.

The goal, Steen's fifth in 20 postseason games, ended the longest game in Blues franchise history, with 40:26 of overtime played. The old record was 37:07 set on April 7, 1984, at Detroit. It also was the first opening game of a playoff series to go to triple overtime since 1951 and only the third triple-OT postseason-series opener in NHL history.

"It was a great play (by Ott)," Steen said. "I think he kind of knew I was coming. We're happy to get the first win."

The Blues trailed 3-2 after a wild first period. St. Louis left winger Jaden Schwartz scored the first playoff goal of his career with 1:45 to play in the third period to send the game to overtime.

From there, the Blues relied on goalie Ryan Miller to extend the game. He stopped 21 shots in the first two overtimes, each of which included a Chicago power play when a St. Louis player was called for delay of game.

The game did not start the way Miller hoped, as he allowed the three goals on Chicago's first seven shots on target.

"In the first period it didn't seem like it was going to go so well, so I had to hunker down a little bit," Miller said. "You get lucky on a few situations, and you've got to battle through the rest. It's just nice to come out at the end of this with a win."

Miller, playing his first playoff game since 2011, when he was with the Buffalo Sabres, made 39 saves, 35 of them after the first period.

"I had to enter the battle sometime," he said. "They had a couple of nice shots in the first. I just tried to shrug it off after the first and keep going. It's not about one period. It's about the culmination of winning four of seven games.

"We needed it for confidence, I think. We needed it to show that stretch we had to finish the season (six consecutive losses) was behind us. The guys needed this, but we have to understand that they are a very talented team with a ton of talent. They've got the experience of winning. Hopefully we can carry the confidence forward knowing it is going to be a hard-fought series."

After the teams had traded the first four goals of the game  with Chicago getting one from defenseman Johnny Oduya and a power-play goal from defenseman Brent Seabrook and the Blues' goals coming from right winger Adam Cracknell and right winger Vladimir Tarasenko  Blackhawks right winger Patrick Kane scored on a breakaway with 1:36 left in the opening period.

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Kane was playing for the first time after missing the final 12 games of the regular season because of a knee injury. Tarasenko was in St. Louis' lineup for the first time since March 15. He had been out with a broken right hand.

Goalie Corey Crawford (48 saves) made the Blackhawks' lead stand up until Schwartz found a way to tie the game and send it to overtime.

"I think the big thing for us is we have to realize it's only one game and we've got a quick turnaround coming back, and that's the best part about it  we get right back at it and we have to figure out what we need to do to get better and hopefully we'll get back at it for Game 2," Kane said.

Game 2 of the series, the first between the longtime rivals in the playoffs since 2002, will be Saturday afternoon in St. Louis.

"I think we're going to keep the morale and keep the feeling in the locker room positive and feeling good and let this one sink in and maybe be ticked off for a few minutes about it here, but tomorrow it's time to move on," Chicago center Jonathan Toews said.

NOTES: The Blackhawks are trying to become the first team to win consecutive Stanley Cups since the Detroit Red Wings in 1997 and 1998. ... Chicago led the NHL with 267 goals during the regular season, but the team that led the league in scoring has not won the Cup since the Pittsburgh Penguins did it in 1991-92. ... While the Blues got many of their injured players back Thursday night, they were still without RW T.J. Oshie and C Patrik Berglund. Oshie missed the last two games of the regular season after taking a hard check to his head against the Minnesota Wild. He could be cleared to play in Game 2 on Saturday. Berglund (upper body) is expected to be out until later in the series.

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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