ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Blues pulled out a 1-0 overtime win against the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 1 of the Western Conference First Round at Scottrade Center on Wednesday. David Backes scored at 9:04, with the puck going off the skate blade of Chicago defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk past goaltender Corey Crawford.
What we learned: This is going to be a long, bruising, well-matched series. And it's a shame that one of these teams is going to be knocked out in the first round.
What this means for the Blues: Brian Elliott can stand up to the Blackhawks. The goaltender, who split duties with Jake Allen this season, got the nod in Game 1 and came through. Elliott turned away all 35 shots by Chicago, including a save at 6:58 of the second period after a Robby Fabbri giveaway yielded a breakaway for Jonathan Toews from Marian Hossa, and a very dangerous chance on the penalty kill less than two minutes into overtime.
Video: CHI@STL, Gm1: Backes' pass deflects in for OT winner
What this means for the Blackhawks: This would have been something of a fortunate win for the Blackhawks, who had a potentially rusty Crawford, no defenseman Duncan Keith, and a just-in-from-travel forward Andrew Ladd, who was a game-time decision. The pressure was on the Blues. But the Blackhawks should be heartened by the way their defense reacted, causing most of the shots to go wide and blocking many of the rest. Chicago held St. Louis to 16 shots in regulation and blocked 21, including five by defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson. Without Keith, the Blackhawks leaned heavily on Brent Seabrook, van Riemsdyk and Hjalmarsson.
Key moment: The Blues took three consecutive penalties in the first period, including one while already on the penalty kill. Jay Bouwmeester took the first at 13:17 for tripping, and then, seven seconds after it expired, Alex Steen was called for hooking. With 36 seconds left in that penalty, Carl Gunnarsson was called for hooking, giving the Blackhawks a 5-on-3. But the Blues, who came into the game with the third-ranked penalty kill in the NHL (85.1 percent) kept the Blackhawks from scoring. St. Louis had three straight key blocks, two by Colton Parayko and one by Kevin Shattenkirk, as they held off the NHL's second-ranked power play (22.6 percent). Chicago finished 0-for-5 on the power play, including on a penalty to Parayko seven seconds into overtime.
Unsung player of the game: Ladd was a game-time decision for the Blackhawks after expecting the birth of his child. But he made it to St. Louis in time for warmups and played 17:47. He was credited with two shots and eight hits.
What's next: The teams get one day off before returning for Game 2 here on Friday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CSN-CHI, FS-MW, SN, TVA Sports 2). They'll need the rest after playing into overtime and with more overtimes seemingly likely through the rest of the series. But for the Blackhawks, that's old hat. This was the fifth straight season the Blackhawks opened the playoffs with an overtime game.