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game recap

Blues defeat Blackhawks in Game 7

Brouwer scores winner, St. Louis advances to face Dallas in second round

by Louie Korac / Correspondent

ST. LOUIS -- Troy Brouwer bit the hand that once fed him, and it helped the St. Louis Blues eliminate the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks from the playoffs.

Brouwer scored at 8:31 of the third period to lift the Blues to a 3-2 win against the Blackhawks in Game 7 of their Western Conference First Round series at Scottrade Center on Monday.

It's the first time the Blues have advanced to the second round since 2012. They will play the Dallas Stars.

Brouwer, who won the Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks in 2010, redirected Robby Fabbri's pass and the puck hit the post. He whiffed on a second try before backhanding a shot past Chicago goalie Corey Crawford to help St. Louis to its first Game 7 victory since the first round of the 1999 playoffs against the Arizona Coyotes.

The goal was Brouwer's first in 24 playoff games, dating to May 8, 2013, when he played for the Washington Capitals against the New York Rangers.

Video: CHI@STL, Gm7: Brouwer beats Crawford in the crease

"That was the ugliest goal I've ever scored and probably the most timely goal I've ever scored," said Brouwer, who played for the Blackhawks from 2006-11. "I was joking with [Fox Sports Midwest color analyst Darren Pang] that if I didn't put that one in, I might quit hockey.

"I just tried to stay with it; knowing the magnitude of the game, knowing how everything's been going. We'd been having great opportunities but haven't been able to put them in."

Fabbri made the initial play in the neutral zone when he knocked Blackhawks defenseman Erik Gustafsson off the puck and turned it around going the other way. Center Paul Stastny passed the puck to the left hash marks for Fabbri, who sent it to Brouwer at the top of the crease.

St. Louis goalie Brian Elliott made 31 saves in the first Game 7 start of his NHL career.

Video: CHI@STL, Gm7: Seabrook bangs puck off both posts

Brent Seabrook nearly tied it for the Blackhawks with 3:30 remaining, but his shot through traffic hit each goal post. Defenseman Alex Pietrangelo was there to clean up the crease in front of Elliott and backhand the puck out of danger.

"I just got back as quick as I could," Pietrangelo said. "I got it at the last second. A half a second later and it's in our net."

Jori Lehtera and Colton Parayko scored in the first period for the Blues.

"Every game was just packed with a sense of urgency and emotion," St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock said. "Every game felt like its own sudden-death game. It was a lot of fun. It was a lot of fun to coach in it, to play in it, to strategize in it. It was a lot of fun.

"It was real eye-opening what a championship team can do like them when they can dial it up. You find yourself on the bench just in awe with some of the things they do. We had to find a way to battle through it. We knew that there was going to be a push. It came and came hard. You play in a series like this, you see why that team has won three [Stanley] Cups."

Video: CHI@STL, Gm7: Lehtera beats Crawford with deflection

The Blackhawks, who were eliminated in the first round for the first time since the Coyotes defeated them in 2012, got goals from Marian Hossa and Andrew Shaw. Crawford made 23 saves; he's 2-3 in Game 7 in his NHL career.

Chicago is the first defending Stanley Cup champion to lose in the first round since the Boston Bruins in 2012.

"Tough way to go out," said Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville, who was coach of the Blues for their previous Game 7 on home ice, in 2000. "We had the perfect setup there and we did exactly what we're not supposed to do, or what we're unaccustomed to doing, and it's in our net and it's game, set, match.

"Huge disappointment for me. ... In first rounds, that felt like the conference finals."  

Video: CHI@STL, Gm7: Parayko rings it in off the post

Lehtera scored at 1:00 of the first when he tipped Jay Bouwmeester's shot from the left point to give the Blues a 1-0 lead. It tied Martin Rucinsky for fastest goal to begin a Game 7 in Blues history; Rucinsky scored his against the Vancouver Canucks in the first round of the 2003 playoffs.

"Ville Nieminen once told me, 'If you want pizza, you go to Pizza Hut,'" Lehtera said. '"If you want to score goals, you go to the net.'"

Lehtera is the first Blues player to score his first NHL playoff goal in Game 7 since Ron Schock on May 5, 1968.

Parayko made it 2-0 when he scored his second NHL playoff goal at 13:43. Alexander Steen pinched behind the net and got the puck to Patrik Berglund, who fed Parayko for a big slap shot from the blue line.

Video: CHI@STL, Gm7: Hossa uses screen to beat Elliott

Chicago had an answer late in the first. The Blackhawks broke out after an ill-advised pass by Lehtera in the offensive zone for Jaden Schwartz, who fell to the ice. Richard Panik fed Hossa, who used Blues defenseman Carl Gunnarsson as a screen and beat Elliott high to the short side from the top of the right circle with 1:30 remaining in the period.

The Blackhawks tied it on the power play in the second period when Shaw scored his fourth goal of the playoffs. After Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk was called for hooking Marcus Kruger, Shaw's cross-crease pass to Hossa caromed off Bouwmeester and past Elliott at 3:20.

Video: CHI@STL, Gm7: Shaw beats Elliott with deflection

"We fought back to get it to 2-2," Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane said. "Obviously, they got that goal there in the third and you're trying to play catch-up again. Yeah, maybe one too many times in the hole."

Once Brouwer scored, the Blues felt the Blackhawks would have a big push. They'd witnessed it in Game 6, when they lost 6-3 after leading 3-1.

"I'm sure leaving Game 6, they probably thought they had us cracked," Hitchcock said. "They pushed us back hard and we had no answer for Game 6. We came back and had an answer tonight."

Video: Blues take series with 3-2 Game 7 win over Blackhawks

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