ST. LOUIS – The Chicago Blackhawks were furiously trying to kill off the lengthy penalty Brent Seabrook incurred for his high and potentially suspension-worthy hit on David Backes. They were close to doing it, too.
But like some sort of cruel joke, the St. Louis Blues found a way to tie the game late in regulation again. A few minutes later, they were sending the Blackhawks away with a loss here, again.
Vladimir Tarasenko scored with just seven seconds remaining in regulation and Barret Jackman scored the winner 5:50 into overtime as the Blues beat the Blackhawks 4-3 in Game 2 of their first-round series on Saturday. The Blackhawks are now down 0-2 in the series, which resumes Monday in Chicago.
It’s the second time in as many games the Blackhawks had a 3-2 lead late in regulation and the second time they lost it. On Thursday, the Blues tied it with 1:45 remaining in the third period. Saturday’s hurt more: a 6-on-4 goal, with Ryan Miller pulled and the Blues on the power play from Seabrook’s five-minute charging, and just seven seconds left on the clock.
“Brutal,” coach Joel Quenneville said of another late-regulation crusher. “We did a great job killing, an outstanding job, and you’re right there, (seven) seconds away. The other game was tough; it was tough (losing the lead) with a buck and change. But tonight was brutal.”
It got worse early in overtime when Jackman scored five-hole on Corey Crawford 5:50 into overtime. The Blues outshot the Blackhawks 7-2 in that brief overtime.
“My pads were together but there was a little space there,” Crawford said. “I have to find a way to make that save and our guys need me to make a save at the end. It’s really frustrating being up and losing the lead two games in a row in the last couple of minutes. That’s pretty much not acceptable. We’re not going to win if I play like that. I have to be better.”
The Blackhawks had a horrible start to this game, as they were completely outplayed in the first 20 minutes. Their power play was quiet again, going 0-for-4 on the night. Still, the Blues led only 2-0 after that first period, leaving the Blackhawks within striking distance. Duncan Keith did strike late in the second, his blast getting through Ryan Miller to cut St. Louis’ lead to 2-1.
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The defensemen weren’t done. Seabrook took a puck off the boards, whirled and fired to tie the game 2-2 about five minutes into the third period. Less than two minutes later, Michal Rozsival’s shot went off a Blues player and in for a 3-2 Blackhawks lead.
Then it got ugly with the Seabrook hit on Backes, and the ending was another crushing one for the Blackhawks.
“We didn’t play well enough in the first period. I think as a group, we answered back and we played the right way in the second and the third, and everyone started playing a little more physical, a little more emotion in their game,” Jonathan Toews said. “You saw the result. We were getting shots from the point, we were getting traffic, we were getting pucks back and we were winning battles. We did a lot of great things. We did what we had to do to win. We just didn’t finish it.”
It’s been a tough couple of days in St. Louis, for many reasons. The Blackhawks have faced playoff adversity before and dealt with it. They’ll have to deal with a heap of it now.
“It’s frustrating right now,” Keith said. “Two games now where we just needed to find a way, and it’s not there.”