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THREE THINGS: Sikura's OT winner lifts Blackhawks past Blues

Read three takeaways from the Blackhawks prospects' 4-3 overtime win over the St. Louis Blues in Traverse City

by Chris Wescott / chicagoblackhawks.com

Dylan Sikura's unassisted score at 3:10 of overtime gave the Blackhawks prospects a 4-3 victory over the St. Louis Blues.

Chicago started off hot in the first period. Philipp Kurashev and MacKenzie Entwistle each managed to slip behind the Blues defense but both were stopped in close by goaltender Evan Fitzpatrick.

Kurashev continued his strong start to the period when he flipped the puck on net and it eventually redirected in off captain Graham Knott for the opening score at 7:47 of the period.

With less than eight minutes remaining in the frame, the Blackhawks struck again to make it 2-0. Jason Willms had an open look as he skated from behind the net but couldn't stuff it in at the post. The puck then sat loose under the goalie. While Fitzpatrick was trying to find and cover it, Nathan Noel - as well as a few others - hacked away at the puck before it finally slid past the line.

Chicago spent a large chunk of the first on the man advantage, but they could not connect on three power-play opportunities. However, after the first 20 minutes, the Blackhawks rookies held a commanding 15-4 lead in shots.

Willms got redemption early in the second when he buried one in front to put the Blackhawks up 3-0. 

A few minutes later, the Blues got on the board with a power-play goal from Bobby MacIntyre. The rest of the frame saw no goals with the Blackhawks leading in shots 29-11 through 40 minutes.

In the third, the Blues battled back with a power-play tally from Robert Thomas at 4:40 and an unassisted score from Jordan Kyrou at 11:58.

With less than two minutes remaining, Alexandre Fortin used his speed to crash the net and draw a penalty when Jake Walman roughed him after the collision. Despite the man advantage, Chicago could not convert.

Tweet from @goicehogs: .@Dsikky11, Casual celly pic.twitter.com/3eEsvUljHy

The Blackhawks possessed the puck for a good amount of the OT frame, with Sikura's winner coming just over three minutes in. Chicago will face Minnesota in the third-place game at 5:30 p.m. CT on Tuesday night.

Here are three takeaways from the game.

1. KURASHEV'S BEST GAME

Kurashev has flashed moments during this tournament so far, jumping off the ice in terms of speed and tenacity and even scoring opportunities. Monday night was the 2018 fourth-round pick's best game yet.

Kurashev generated several chances, including a breakaway 10 seconds into the game.

"You can see he's got a lot of natural ability," said Coach Jeremy Colliton. "He wants to make plays. I thought he was involved tonight. I kind of moved him around and played him with different players because we lost (MacKenzie) Entwistle there, but I thought he had a good performance."

"It was, for sure. For me personally, it was the best game so far," he said. "I had a lot of chances, couldn't score but it's good that we kept pushing and got the win. That's what matters."

2. FORTIN STAYS STRONG

For the third straight game, Fortin makes the Three Things list. His speed and compete has been very evident in all three games and tonight he used that to give his team a good chance to win in regulation.

Fortin backchecked and stole the puck off a Blues player. He then turned it up ice in a show of speed, crashing the net and taking down the goalie as he got tangled up in front. The collision caused a Blues player to take a roughing penalty after, which gave the Blackhawks a power play late.

"He's been excellent all three games," said Colliton. "Tonight he was excellent again."

Fortin said after the game he's felt better each night. He feels healthy, feels good and he's "here to show it."

3. SIKURA'S REDEMPTION

It wasn't the same dominant performance for the team's top line in this one that it has been so far in the tournament. However, your best players step up in big moments. For Sikura, that moment came in overtime when he sniped the winner. He overcame a slow start to make a difference.

"I think he had trouble getting going today," said Colliton. "There wasn't a lot of space for him, he had trouble getting going, he wasn't able to get the puck with time and space as often as he maybe has in the other games. But in overtime he got some speed and had a chance to get a shot off and he buried it. That's what your skilled players do for you."

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