CHICAGO - Steve Ott never doubted he’d return from a serious hamstring injury that kept him out of the lineup for more than four months.
Not once. Not ever.
“I knew I was going to beat this thing,” Ott said. “The training staff told me right away what I was facing and what the situation was. Basically (they said) ‘you put the rehab in and you’ll be back to 100 percent.’ I had total belief in our trainers and medical staff and they got me back to 100 percent.”
Maybe that’s why his surprise return for Game 3 in Chicago was so special. After needing four months to recover, Ott was thrust into a heated playoff battle in a tough atmosphere, and he picked up right where he left off.
“He was in everybody’s face. We need that from him,” Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said. “That’s why I used to hate playing against him, but I like him now.”
Ott played 6 minutes and 29 seconds in his return, won two of the three face-offs he took and delivered four hits, one of which rocked Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook in the first period.
Later in the game, he also got under the skin of Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews.
“He did exactly what he needs to do for his first game in four months,” Blues Head Coach Ken Hitchcock said. “It’s just amazing what he’s done and what type of work he’s put in to be a player in this series. He wants to be an impact guy and he can have a big impact on this series here.”
“That’s a tough injury to go through. I don’t know anybody who’s had that. From what I saw, it didn’t look good,” Pietrangelo added. “To come in the way he did, not miss a beat and fit in with that line perfectly, it goes to show the effort he’s put in and the type of guy he is off the ice to put in the work.”