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Blues, Blackhawks back at it after triple-OT thriller

by Brian Hedger


(St. Louis leads best-of-7 series, 1-0)


Big story: It will be difficult for Game 2 of this Western Conference First Round series to top Game 1 from an entertainment standpoint. Alexander Steen's goal 26 seconds into the third overtime gave the St. Louis Blues a 4-3 victory against the Chicago Blackhawks.

Each team has positives to take into Game 2. The Blackhawks got highly skilled right wing Patrick Kane (goal) and captain Jonathan Toews (two assists) back from injuries that sidelined them down the final stretch of the regular season. The Blues saw a group of banged-up players return, including captain David Backes (assist on Steen's goal) and forward Vladimir Tarasenko (goal).

"You try to get as much sleep as you can, but I think everyone feels really good right now," Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford said Friday. "We're in good shape and we're ready to go. We have that hunger, a little bitter taste … I think we had a chance to win that hockey game being up in the third period. Had a couple opportunities, a bunch of opportunities in overtime. We're ready to go for Game 2."

Team Scope:

Blackhawks: Chicago was 105 seconds away from a 3-2 victory in Game 1, but Jaden Schwartz sent it to overtime with a huge goal after forcing a turnover. The Blackhawks, who didn't practice Friday, can swipe home-ice advantage before the series shifts to United Center.

The goal by Schwartz was in line with a trend from the regular season. Chicago coughed up third-period leads in seven of its 22 games that went past regulation, including four two-goal margins. One of those two-goal leads was blown against the Blues in a 6-5 shootout loss Dec. 28 in St. Louis.

"We know they're going to make a push, they're going to keep coming at us," forward Patrick Sharp said Friday. "[Up] 3-2, we would have liked to have scored that fourth goal and have some breathing room, but their goaltender made some saves and they did a good job of kind of limiting our chances. You can spin the game any way you want, and go back and look at missed opportunities or what you could have done differently. The bottom line is they won the first one and we've got a big game [Saturday]."

Blues: Goaltender Ryan Miller came into Game 1 after allowing 33 goals in his final 11 regular-season appearances. He promptly gave up three more to the Blackhawks in the first period but didn't allow another.

Aided by a strong defensive effort in front of him, Miller made 35 more saves and regained his form after going 0-5-0 with a 3.82 goals-against average in his final five starts of the regular season.

"We were good early, and then they gave us a real push, went up 3-2, caught us kind of napping defensively and then they had a big start to the third period," coach Ken Hitchcock said after an optional practice Friday. "That's where we needed Ryan. First four minutes of the third period, they were all over us and then we started to really play after that."

Miller worked for about 15 minutes during practice, and a few others who played in Game 1 skated. Injured forwards T.J. Oshie (upper body) and Patrik Berglund (upper body) were among those on the ice.

Who's hot: Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook finished with a goal and assist, and Crawford made 48 saves. … Blues forwards Steen and Schwartz continued their hot hands against Chicago, scoring after each scored twice in the season series.

Injury report: Chicago is healthy. … Oshie (upper body) and Berglund (upper body) were the only St. Louis regulars who didn't play in Game 1. Each is expected to return at some point in the series.

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