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Resilient Blues Have Hawks on the Brink

by Chris Pinkert / St. Louis Blues

[ri-zil-yuh ns]

  1. the power or ability to return to the original form, position, etc., after being bent, compressed, or stretched.
  2. ability to recover readily from illness, depression, adversity, or the like; buoyancy.

In past years, when bad things happened to the Blues, they've unraveled.

If you need any proof that this year’s St. Louis Blues team is different than those teams, look no further than several key moments in this best-of-7 series against the Chicago Blackhawks.

In Game 2, Vladimir Tarasenko’s go-ahead goal in the third period was disallowed after a lengthy coaches challenge on whether Jori Lehtera’s skate was offside. Not long after, Blackhawks forward Andrew Shaw put Chicago ahead 2-1, but the Blues challenged whether there was goaltender inference on the play. The Blues would lose the challenge, and the game, 3-2.

In recent years, the Blues might not have recovered.

This year’s group, though? They responded with a hard-fought, emotional 3-2 win in Game 3 at the United Center, quieting a sell-out crowd of 22,207.

In Game 4, Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford lost his cool and attacked Blues rookie Robby Fabbri, causing a big raucous that left the Blues shorthanded. Duncan Keith gave Chicago a 2-1 lead on the ensuing power play.

“In years past, that was something that would have really affected us,” said Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk.

But what did they do this time?

Vladimir Tarasenko tied the game before the end of the second period, and Jaden Schwartz and Alexander Steen potted third period goals to give the Blues a 3-1 lead in the best-of-7 series against Chicago.

"We haven't had that great response when tough stuff happens (in the past). But it doesn’t matter where it came from, it's here," Blues captain David Backes said. "We love what's on the bench. They got a call or score a goal, and we're right back on it next shift to turn the tide back in our favor.”

“It’s all about responses. That’s what I’ve liked about our team is our response,” Blues Head Coach Ken Hitchcock said. “We’ve done a really good job at responding. You can talk about that all you want, but we learned it way back in November and December (dealing with injuries). We couldn’t get down, couldn’t get depressed, couldn’t get emotionally drained. We just had to fight like crazy. We developed a higher level of mental toughness that is, quite frankly, helping us right now.”

As a result, the Blues have the defending champions on the brink of elimination in the first round.

But they’re not looking past Game 5, which is Thursday at 8:30 p.m. at Scottrade Center.

“We’ve smartened up to falling into those traps or thinking we’ve accomplished something before we’ve accomplished anything,” Backes said. “To win a series you’ve got to win four games and we’ve only won three. We’ve got a tall task ahead of us and we’re focused. We feel like we’re resting and recovering again today, and we’re going to have full batteries tomorrow night for a great game in front of our great fans.”

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