CHICAGO - Ken Hitchcock was in a joking mood Sunday, and why not. His St. Louis Blues has just defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2 in Game 3 of their Western Conference First Round series to take a 2-1 lead.
The Blues scored two goals in the third period to become the first team to defeat Chicago in regulation, regular season or playoffs, when trailing entering the third period since 2014. But the comeback likely would have never happened if not for the play of St. Louis goalie Brian Elliott, who made 44 saves, including 23 in the second period.
"Yeah, he's been OK," Hitchcock said with a big grin. "We need it."
The 44 saves for Elliott were a career high in the playoffs. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Elliott became the fourth Blues goalie to make at least 44 saves in a regulation postseason game and first since April 20, 1994, when Curtis Joseph made 47 in a 4-2 road loss to the Dallas Stars
Video: STL@CHI, Gm3: Elliott withstands pressure in front
The second period, where Chicago fired 23 shots at Elliott, helped him get on the list.
"That's how many shots they had [in the second period]? Wow, that's pretty good. ... They got a real bead on us. Our goalie was great in the second," he said. "They had a real bead on us, we made some puck mistakes. They put a lot of pressure on us. They were on the hunt all the time. Surviving that, we got a real good breath in between periods and we really went at it in the third."
Elliott, who is 2-1 with a 1.28 goals-against average and .963 save percentage in this series, was able to regroup after allowing Brent Seabrook's goal 2:18 into the game on Chicago's first shot on goal.
"First shot of the game, you never want to give that one up," Elliott said. "We got some tough calls right away. After that, we killed them off and we did a great job of them. Like you said, it definitely kind of settles you in. You're down one and then you've got to come back. Now the rest is kind of up to your teammates and they did a good job coming back."
Video: STL@CHI, Gm3: Elliott robs Panarin late in 2nd period
Elliott did allow Artem Anisimov's goal 1:04 into the second period, but stopped the final 32 shots he faced, including the last 20 in the second period.
"They did a good job of kind of crashing the net and creating traffic and stuff," Elliott said. "Our guys kind of battled and kept guys to the outside. Obviously kept the shooting lanes in my sight or view. It's tough to digest it right now because it's such an emotional game out there."
To his teammates, it was vintage Elliott.
"He was again really, really good and we need him to play this way," said left wing Patrik Berglund, whose third-period goal tied the game 2-2. "He made some big saves for us. He's a huge part of this win."