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Keith's four-point performance sparks Blackhawks

by Dan Rosen / Chicago Blackhawks

CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville has been behind the bench for most of the past six seasons of defenseman Duncan Keith's career, watching him win one Norris Trophy and contribute on two Stanley Cup championship teams.

Just when Quenneville figured he had seen Keith do it all, there was Game 6 against the St. Louis Blues on Sunday.

"I've been around here for six years and [Duncan], that might have been the best game I've ever seen him play," Quenneville said.

Keith had his second career four-point game in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, helping lift the Blackhawks to a 5-1 series-clinching victory in the Western Conference First Round. Chicago moves on to play the winner of the series between the Colorado Avalanche and Minnesota Wild.

Keith had assists on goals by Bryan Bickell, Jonathan Toews and Andrew Shaw before scoring his second goal of the playoffs off a 2-on-1 rush with 2:55 remaining to cap a four-goal third period by the Blackhawks.

"I think not just looking at his point production, but his quickness, his patience and his ... you know, he defended well, his gap," Quenneville said. "He did everything well. So, we're very happy for him and the way he played. Special [game] for him."

Keith said he was simply happy to contribute in a game that mattered. He knew the stakes, and he had no desire to go back to St. Louis for Game 7 on Tuesday.

"These are the games that try to step up in," Keith said. "I don't feel I'm older, but as a guy who has been here a while I think you try to embrace these situations."

Keith was particularly effective at keeping pucks in at the left point. His plays there led Bickell's goal in the first period and Toews' go-ahead and eventual game-winning power-play goal 44 seconds into the third period.

St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock nodded when he was asked if the Blues needed to do a better job getting pucks past Keith and out of the zone. However, he added Keith's play at the point reminded him of a seven-time Norris Trophy winner.

"[Nicklas] Lidstrom did the same thing," Hitchcock said. "You think you're out, and then you're out alright, you're out at center ice facing off. He's good at that."

Keith said he makes a conscious effort to keep the puck in there at all costs, even if it's a risky play, because he knows the Blackhawks are at their best when they're attacking and applying pressure.

"I tried to keep the pressure on them as much as I could [Sunday]," Keith said. "Part of that is keeping pucks in. If you keep that puck in it can just add that much more pressure. They scored their goal just by keeping that puck in a little bit inside our blue line. We didn't get it out, and next thing you know it's in the back of our net."

True, but T.J. Oshie's goal at 16:28 of the first period was all the Blues got against the Blackhawks. Keith was a big reason why.

He played a team-high 25:16, including another team-high 6:26 on the penalty kill. The Blues were 0-for-6.

Keith played 2:28 on the power play, and had one of his three assists in that span.

"It feels good to contribute in a big game," Keith said. "The main thing for me is being able to move on here, and get a couple of days to relax and regroup and focus on the next round. Our goal is to keep moving on and this is another step."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter: @drosennhl

Author: Dan Rosen | Senior Writer

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