NHL playoffs: Blues up 2-0, but remember last year
ST. LOUIS — The St. Louis Blues were in exactly this same position a year ago, and defenseman Barret Jackman said they do not need any reminders about what happened next.
Jackman’s goal 5:50 into overtime gave the Blues a 4-3 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday, putting them up two games to none in their opening-round playoff series.
Last year, the Blues also defeated the defending Stanley Cup champions, the Los Angeles Kings, in the first two games at home in the opening round, then promptly lost the next four and the series.
Jackman thinks the Blues will be better prepared this year when the series moves to Chicago for game three Monday night.
“We’ve got to stay on our toes,” Jackman said. “We’re going into a tough building and it’s going to take everybody. Tonight we got a little but lucky. We let our foot off the gas and they got a couple lucky bounces.
“You’ve got a team down, 2-0, you’ve got to finish them and that’s what we’ve got to do.”
Jackman’s goal, the second of his career in the playoffs, got past goalie Corey Crawford and trickled into the net. Crawford admitted he didn’t see it very well.
“It was a little bit of a screen, but it went straight through,” Crawford said. “I had my pads together, but there was a little space there and it just kind of squeezed through.”
For the second game in a row, the Blues got a late goal, this time from right wing Vladimir Tarasenko with 6.8 seconds to play, to send the game to overtime. In the first game Thursday night, left wing Jaden Schwartz scored with 1:45 to play to tie the game, which the Blues eventually won in the third overtime.
Tarasenko’s goal came after Blackhawks’ defenseman Brent Seabrook was assessed a five-minute major penalty and a game misconduct for charging Blues’ center David Backes with 4:51 to play.
The Blues, who had a 5-on-3 advantage for 45 seconds after the hit but couldn’t score, eventually pulled goalie Ryan Miller with 1:46 to play to have a 6-on-4 advantage when they came up with the tying goal.
That was the response the Blues wanted to the hit, which left Backes wobbly as he left the ice. St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock said his captain was “not great” after the game.
“At some points this year we’ve got too emotional and that kind of hindered our thought process,” Jackman said. “We knew it was a five-minute major and we were down by a goal and no time for retaliation.
“Backes is a big boy and he’s a big part of this team, but we’ve got to go forward.”
Hitchcock would not comment on the Seabrook hit, saying he will let the league deal with it. He also was concerned after the game about the health of center Vladimir Sobotka, who sustained an injury earlier in the game.
“We needed to just calm down and play the right way again,” Hitchcock said. “It’s a series filled with a lot of emotion and intensity. Both teams battled like crazy. We’re lucky we’ve held serve and now we’ve got to take it into Chicago and see if we can get a win.”
Seabrook said he was simply trying to make a play on Backes, who was crunched into the boards with the high hit.
“I was coming down the wall and I just tried to finish my hit,” Seabrook said. “I feel bad seeing a guy like that on the ice. I’ve been there myself. I wasn’t trying to target his head or do anything like that. ... It wasn’t my intent. I hope he’s doing OK, that’s all I can say.”
The Blues carried a 2-1 lead into the third period before the Blackhawks got goals from Seabrook and defenseman Michal Rozsival in a span of 1:45 early in the period to take the lead.
Left wing Chris Porter and defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk scored in the first period for the Blues, and defenseman Duncan Keith scored for the Blackhawks late in the second period to begin their comeback.
Keith’s goal ended a streak of 53 consecutive saves by Miller after he allowed three goals on Chicago’s first seven shots in the first period on Thursday night.
Chicago coach Joel Quenneville still expects a long series.
“We were right there, six seconds away and to end up losing it is a shame,” Quenneville said. “I thought we battled back to get back into the game and did everything we could to win the game.
“We did a lot of good things. We’ve got to get back to our building and win a game and get some momentum back.”