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Tarasenko scores in OT, Blues rally past Blackhawks

by Brian Hedger / NHL.com

CHICAGO -- It wasn't a typical, hard-hitting rivalry game between the Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues at United Center on Wednesday.

Rather than a contest filled with heavy checking and low shot totals, the Blues' 6-5 overtime win was wild and a little strange.

Despite each team missing key players, the Blues (9-3-1) and Blackhawks (7-5-1) combined for seven goals in the first period, when Chicago surged to a 5-2 lead. St. Louis scored the next four to win it, including three in the second and the game-winner at 3:54 of overtime by Vladimir Tarasenko.

The Blues scored three goals in the second period to tie the game at 5-5 by the second intermission.

"We came out on our heels a little bit and they came out flying, as they usually do in this building," said Blues goalie Jake Allen, who twice relieved starter Brian Elliott in the first period and finished with 27 saves on 28 shots. "It wasn't as rough as the games [between St. Louis and Chicago] usually are, to be honest. It was more of a skill, puck-possession game. It wasn't a good first period. We know that, but we came back and proved that we can play."

St. Louis had a tough travel experience prior to the game.

After losing 3-0 to the Los Angeles Kings at Scottrade Center on Tuesday, the Blues' overnight flight to Chicago was diverted to Milwaukee because of inclement weather. They were bused to Chicago, didn't arrive until a couple hours before dawn and didn't hold a morning skate.

They looked a little sluggish to start the game, allowing goals by Chicago's Marko Dano, Andrew Shaw, Teuvo Teravainen, Brent Seabrook and Patrick Kane in the first period.

St. Louis stayed in the game on first-period goals by Alexander Steen and Robby Fabbri. Allen held Chicago at bay after Elliott left the game because of an upper-body injury at 17:44 of the first, following a blow to the head during a collision in the crease.

Steen's second goal of the game cut the Blackhawks' lead to 5-3 at 3:11 of the second, Bouwmeester pulled the Blues to within 5-4 on a power-play goal at 17:12 and Backes tied it 5-5 with his goal at 19:26, beating Chicago goalie Corey Crawford from the bottom of the left circle.

Chicago outshot St. Louis 43-29 in the game and 14-7 in the third, when neither team scored to force overtime. Allen made three saves in overtime and Crawford (23 saves) made one.

"With the day or night or whatever you want to call it [that] we had, to come back and play with the energy we did in the second period, I thought the second period was one of the best periods we've played all year," St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock said. "We really did the things we wanted to. Guys deserve a lot of credit."

The Blackhawks played without top defenseman Duncan Keith (right meniscus surgery) and right wing Marian Hossa (lower-body injury). The Blues played without forward Jaden Schwartz (fractured right ankle), center Paul Stastny (broken right foot), forward Patrik Berglund (right shoulder surgery) and defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk (lower body).

St. Louis also lost Elliott and forward Steve Ott (upper body) during the game and Hitchcock said the Blues would provide updates Thursday.

Despite so many talented players out, neither team struggled to score early. It surprised everybody watching, including the players and coaches.

"Without names like Stastny, Schwartz, Shattenkirk and Berglund in there, all of a sudden it's a 6-5 game," Backes said. "You kind of shake your head at it like, 'What's going on here?' We're looking to win a 2-1 game or a 1-0 game. That's our wheelhouse. A 6-5 game, we're not going to win too many of those with that firepower out, but that was a heck of a game. It was entertaining for both sets of fans. Hopefully no one in St. Louis turned that off too soon."

It started right off the hop, when the Blackhawks and Blues each played fast and loose in a wild first that had 26 combined shots and seven goals.

The Blackhawks had four players record a goal and assist in the first period; it was their season-high for goals in a game and period this season and Chicago's first five-goal period since March 5, 2010 against the Vancouver Canucks.

"We had a good first period," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "Everything went in the net both ways for 40 minutes. I still think we look at the chances at the end of the game, it was probably a normal chance game. But the pucks were definitely going in tonight."

The problem for Chicago was allowing the Blues to stay in the game.

"We got off to the start we wanted, and it's a good lesson to learn, I think, early in the season," Crawford said. "Can't let that happen, especially against a good team. We gave them too many goals and let them back in the game. There were still some chances to win that game, but we'll learn from this one."

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