That's the formula the Chicago Blackhawks face to successfully
defend last season's Stanley Cup championship.
Chicago took the first step toward doing so — and potentially go
on to win its third NHL title in five seasons — with Sunday's 5-1
blowout of the St. Louis Blues in Game 6 of the Western Conference
Perhaps a better way to put it: Chicago needs just 12 more wins in
the playoffs to remain kings of the NHL.
Any way you put it, Sunday's game was one Blackhawks fans will
remember for a long time, while also one Blues fans can't wait to
"The puck was bouncing along the goal line, but you have to score.
You have to finish and we didn't finish," St. Louis coach Ken
Hitchcock said. "We played with a real high level of intensity, we
didn't have any panic in our game at all.
"We were in a great spot, but we made big errors. ... We can't do
that stuff if you're going to win at the end. We cracked a little
bit there and that's something we don't want to do."
After losing the first two games of the best-of-seven series,
Chicago rallied to win four straight games to eliminate the Blues
and to move Chicago into the conference semifinals.
"It feels good, it was a tough series," said Chicago defenseman
Duncan Keith, who had one goal and three assists in the game. "Every
game was close. Even tonight ... it was a close game for 50 minutes
and then we were able to separate some distance there. It felt good
to get that momentum and I think we did a good job just holding onto
Chicago will face the winner of the Minnesota-Colorado series in the
conference semifinals. Colorado leads Minnesota 3-2 with Game 6
Monday night in Minnesota.
A four-goal barrage in the third period by team captain and center
Jonathan Toews, left winger Patrick Sharp, center Andrew Shaw and
Keith sealed things up for Chicago.
Even though St. Louis outshot the Blackhawks 36-27 in the game — including a lopsided 17-3 margin in the second period and an overall
28-11 mismatch through the first two periods — Chicago's defense
and especially goalie Corey Crawford were nothing short of stellar.
Crawford stopped all but one of St. Louis' 36 shots, while Blues
goalie Ryan Miller was only able to stop 22 of the Blackhawks' 27
Chicago's defense particularly focused on St. Louis right winger
Vladimir Tarasenko, who came into the game tied for the NHL lead in
goals in the opening round of this season's playoffs (four), and it
paid off as Tarasenko was scoreless in Sunday's series-deciding
Another reason for Chicago's success: it went 27-for-29 in
penalty-killing situations in the entire series. However, the
Blackhawks will need to improve their power play in the next round — they were just 3-of-20 vs. the Blues.
"We had the good battle with us," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville
said. "As the series progressed you had to really raise the level of
battling and perseverance almost every shift that you needed to get
through this team because (the Blues) play the right way. They're
heavy and they're strong and they're relentless. Every game seemed
to get more challenging. I thought they played their best game here
today. We were fortunate to come out of it the way it ended up."
Chicago opened the scoring early in the first period when left
winger Bryan Bickell scored his second goal of the series, sinking
the puck past St. Louis goalie Ryan Miller at 4:12.
[to top of second column]
Bickell's goal was particularly noteworthy in that Chicago
defenseman Brent Seabrook, who had sat out the previous three games
on suspension for his hit on Blues center David Backes in Game 2,
earned the assist (along with fellow defenseman Duncan Keith) by
feeding Bickell the goal-scoring setup pass.
St. Louis tied things up at 16:28 of the opening period when left
winger Alexander Steen circled around behind the Blackhawks' net and
fed a waiting right winger T.J. Oshie, who was standing right in
front of — and slipped a shot past — Crawford for the tally. It
was Oshie's second goal of the series and the second in as many
And then came the third period.
With St. Louis' center Jay Bouwmeester still serving the final 1:05
of his late second period penalty for tripping, Toews took advantage
of the power-play situation by scoring his third goal of the
playoffs just 44 seconds into the period, putting Chicago ahead to
"We're going into the third with a 1-1 game in a Game 6 where it's
lay it all on the line, they get a power-play goal and it seemed to
have more of an effect on us than it probably should've," St. Louis
right winger and captain David Backes said. "It's still 20 minutes
to play in a series that's been near tied up the whole time. We
start pressing a little bit, they get a few chances and they have
plenty of guys that can bury the puck and got to display it there in
the third. All that stuff aside, we didn't get the job done."
After essentially being missing in action for the first five games
of the series with no goals or assists, Sharp finally was heard from
with his first goal since April 9 at 2:01.
Sharp's goal complemented team captain Jonathan Toews' third goal of
the playoffs at :44 of the final period, while broke a 1-1 tie and
put Chicago ahead to stay.
Shaw tallied his second goal of the series at 7:30, and Keith scored
his second goal of the series at 17:05. Keith was the Blackhawks'
workhorse, playing a game-high 25 minutes, 16 seconds.
NOTES: After serving a three-game suspension for a flagrant hit on
St. Louis team captain and C David Backes in Game 2, D Brent
Seabrook was back on the ice in Game 6 and had two assists. ...
Attendance was 22,144, the 270th consecutive sellout of the United
Center (229 regular season, 41 playoff games). ... Chicago team
captain and C Jonathan Toews, who turns 26 on Tuesday, leads the
Blackhawks in points with seven (three goals, four assists). He also
was the only player in the league to have three game-winning goals
during the current playoffs, including Sunday's. ... Chicago is now
11-2 in potential playoff series-clinching games since 2009. ...
Sunday was the Blues' 347th all-time meeting vs. the Blackhawks (291
regular season games, 56 playoff games).
[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.