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Instant analysis: Blackhawks vs. Blues, Game 6

Supporting players, playoff pedigree help Chicago force Game 7

by Nicholas J. Cotsonika @cotsonika / Columnist

CHICAGO -- The defending Stanley Cup champions remain alive. The Chicago Blackhawks defeated the St. Louis Blues 6-3 in Game 6 of the Western Conference First Round at United Center on Saturday to tie the best-of-7 series 3-3.

Trailing 3-1, the Blackhawks dominated the second period and took the lead on goals by Artem Anisimov, Trevor van Riemsdyk and Dale Weise. They outshot the Blues 19-4 in the period before killing a late penalty. Andrew Shaw, back from a one-game suspension, scored a power-play goal late in the third period, and Marian Hossa had an empty-net goal.

What we learned: As much as the Blackhawks' core players deserve praise for their heart over the past few years, look at the supporting players who made plays in this game: Anisimov, van Riemsdyk, Weise, Shaw, Richard Panik and Andrew Ladd. General manager Stan Bowman has had to deal with the NHL salary cap and retool around his core since the 2010 Stanley Cup victory. He found the right formula in 2013 and 2015. At least for now, this one is working.

What this means for the Blues: Pressure's on. They had a 3-1 series lead, then lost Game 5 in double overtime and blew a 3-1 lead in Game 6. They say they're a different team, but they'll have to prove it in Game 7 after what happened the past three years in the first round. In 2013, they took a 2-0 series lead against the Los Angeles Kings and lost four straight. In 2014, they took a 2-0 series lead against the Blackhawks and lost four straight. Last year, they were tied 2-2 with the Minnesota Wild and lost back-to-back games.

What this means for the Blackhawks: The legend grows. Under coach Joel Quenneville, they are 45-15 in Games 4-7 of a series and 13-4 facing elimination. They are 15-1 in Game 6, including 7-1 at home. Since 2009-10, they have either won the Cup or been eliminated in overtime of Game 7 every season but one.

Video: STL@CHI, Gm6: van Riemsdyk finishes on the doorstep

Key moment: Van Riemsdyk joined the rush, took a pass from Toews and tied the game 3-3 12:21 into the third period. United Center had been silent. After that, the fans roared throughout a TV timeout, energizing the building and the Blackhawks.

Unsung player of the game: Panik, who the Blackhawks acquired in a trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs on Jan. 3, skated on left wing with Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews. Panik helped set up the tying goal, pulling up on the rush and dishing to Toews. He had six hits, four shots and two blocks.

What's next: Game 7 is Monday at Scottrade Center (8:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports, CSN-CH). The Blackhawks will try to win a series after trailing 3-1 as they did against the Detroit Red Wings in the second round in 2013. The Blues will try to avoid another bitter disappointment.

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