ST. LOUIS -- It took four years of frustration and agony, but the St. Louis Blues finally laid claim to a Stanley Cup Playoff series victory.
And in doing so, they dethroned the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks and won the Western Conference First Round in an epic seven-game series.
The Blues had not won a playoff series since defeating the San Jose Sharks in five games in the first round in 2012, losing four straight series since, including the past three years in the first round.
Here are five reasons the Blues advanced to the second round:
1. Overcoming adversity: The Blues had to bounce back from a Game 2 loss in which they thought they took a lead late in the third period, saw a challenge and video review overturn a Vladimir Tarasenko goal, and had a challenge and video review of their own fail in what turned out to be Andrew Shaw's go-ahead goal.
In Game 4, the Blues trailed 2-1 late in the second period after rookie Robby Fabbri was called for goalie interference on Corey Crawford, and Chicago's Duncan Keith scored on the power play. But instead of wilting, the Blues scored three goals and took a 3-1 series lead.
Video: STL@CHI, Gm4: Tarasenko sparks Blues with two goals
"That was a good hockey series," Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said. "... It's a step in the right direction."
2. Brian Elliott: The Blues goalie was given the keys to the car unequivocally for the first time, and the veteran delivered and outperformed two-time Stanley Cup champion Crawford.
Elliott faced more shots in the series, and what was most crucial to his play was his penchant for quality rebound control when the Blackhawks would try to take his eyes away with bodies in front of him.
"He's been standing on his head all series," Pietrangelo said.
Video: CHI@STL, Gm7: Elliott snares Kane's attempt
Elliott was 4-3 with a 2.40 goals-against average and .929 save percentage; he stopped 236 of 254 shots in the series.
"I'm trying to be the rock for the guys back there," Elliott said. "Let them do their work and give them a chance every night. Going forward here, that's our goal."
3. Vlad's on their side: Tarasenko led the Blues with 40 goals this season, including plenty of damage to the Blackhawks, and that trend continued in the first round.
Tarasenko had nine goals in 12 games against the Blackhawks during the regular season and playoffs combined, and provided St. Louis with a penchant for the big shot when needed, leading the Blues with four goals in the series.
"He's a really competitive player who loves the stage, loves the moment, loves to be part of the team," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "It's not surprising in big games during the regular season and big games in playoffs that he's a good player."
4. Shutdown mode: Blackhawks forwards Patrick Kane, who had 46 goals and a League-leading 106 points, and Jonathan Toews (28 goals) were limited to one goal in the series, a game-winner from Kane in double overtime of Game 5.
The Blues implemented a plan to limit their production.
"Yeah, it's been tough," said Blues center Paul Stastny, whose line drew the majority of the assignments. "It's a challenge. ... You've got to play a different game against those guys. You've got to be aware, try to make them play as much defense as possible. At the same time, they're good players, they're going to get their chances too. So you've got to play defense yourself.
"It's been fun, it's been a good challenge."
Video: CHI@STL, Gm7: Parayko rings it in off the post
5. Rookie play: Fabbri and defenseman Colton Parayko made quite an impact in their first playoff series, along with defenseman Joel Edmundson.
Fabbri set up Troy Brouwer's Game 7 goal, the game-winner, and finished with five points in the series. Parayko, the first Blues defenseman to score a goal in a Game 7, had two goals in the series and made an impact at both ends of the ice.
"Game 7 experience is like gold," Hitchcock said. "I thought they all played very well. They all played with composure, which is a good sign. They're all going to grow because of this. They've been important for us all year. I don't see that changing now."