Momentum: the word is bandied about so often during the NHL postseason. If a team has it, it strives to keep it. If a team doesn’t have it, it’s desperate to grab it.
The momentum swings in the Blackhawks-St. Louis Blues series haven’t just been from game to game; they’ve been from period to period, sometimes shift to shift. St. Louis had it through the first two games, thanks to two come-from-behind home victories. But now, after more harrowing outings at the United Center, the Blackhawks have momentum in their grasp.
Now, they need to take it, hold onto it, and build off it in Game 5.
The Blackhawks were feeling good about themselves after their 4-3 overtime victory on Wednesday night. Again, it wasn’t the prettiest game. Again, it was ridiculously tight. But the Blackhawks, who coughed up a two-goal lead, got behind, tied it late and the finally won in overtime, nevertheless erased St. Louis’ 2-0 series advantage. That has them brimming with confidence heading back to St. Louis.
“(Momentum) goes a long way in this game,” said Bryan Bickell. “Right now, we have it; and going into their building we need to win one. We have a good opportunity in the next one but they’re a good team for a reason. They have the do-or-die attitude. We need to play like we did here, bring it there.”
Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock acknowledged that the Blackhawks have the edge right now.
“They have the momentum now and we have to take it back. We have two of three at home, but we have to take the momentum back,” he said. “These have been two really hard-fought games here. This was a momentum-builder for them and we have to find a way to regroup and take it back from them. That’s a big challenge for us. We’re up to it, but we have to have a heart-to-heart and get back on our toes again. The way we played in second and third was really good. That’s what we have to get back to as much as we can.”
The Blackhawks have brought a solid game, for the most part, to Scotttrade Center. Problem is, they haven’t had the finish there. We won’t go through the Blues’ last-second regulation goals and overtime winners; they’re ingrained in Blackhawks fans’ memories already. The Blackhawks have relinquished late leads there all season, not just the playoffs. It’s a trend that has to end, and end now.
“We have the momentum now,” Patrick Kane said. “We know it’s going to be a tough game in their building. It’s a tough place to play. We’ll expect them to get better and we have to get better, too.”
The momentum swings continue, with them favoring the Blackhawks right now. The Blackhawks want to make sure they don’t lose it; the Blues will be doing everything they can to grab it.
“Can’t say enough about how competitive it’s been in the four games: the battles, the resiliency and the will. So it was a huge win for us and got us back to even,” head coach Joel Quenneville said. “We get the momentum. Let’s go in there and look to sustain it.”