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NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, April 19th (All times Eastern)
Chicago Blackhawks (0-1) at St. Louis Blues (1-0), 3 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The opener of the highly-anticipated Western Conference quarterfinal series between the St. Louis Blues and Chicago Blackhawks did not disappoint, On Saturday afternoon, the clubs will try for an encore performance at Scottrade Center in St. Louis.
Two overtime periods weren't enough to decide Game 1 at the Scottrade Center, but Alexander Steen finally ended it for the Blues with his game-winning goal just 26 seconds into triple overtime. The thrilling victory gave St. Louis a 1-0 edge in the best-of-seven series and the club will try to make it a two- game cushion before the series shifts to Chicago for Games 3 and 4.
The Blues trailed by a goal late in regulation, but Jaden Schwartz tallied the equalizer with 1:45 left in the third to force an extra session.
After a pair of entertaining overtimes, Steen ended the longest game in Blues history when he scored from point-blank range off a nice set up from Steve Ott to give St. Louis a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven set.
"We know stuff is going to happen," Steen said. "We might get down, might be up in the series, and we just stick with it and keep playing."
Steen is coming off the best regular season of his NHL career, posting career bests in goals (33) and points (62) over 68 games. The 30-year-old notched his fifth career postseason goal with Thursday's winner.
Adam Cracknell and Vladimir Tarasenko also scored for the Blues, who were able to shrug off a late-season funk to win their first game of the 2014 playoffs. St. Louis dropped its final six regular-season games to fall into second place in the Central Division heading into the postseason.
"I think the players really put a lot into this because they didn't want this season to just kind of wilt away," St. Louis head coach Ken Hitchcock said, referring to his team's struggles down the stretch in the regular season. "They're going to put up a fight here."
Former Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller saw his Blues playoff debut get off to a rocky start before settling into the game. Miller, who was acquired from Buffalo at the trade deadline, allowed three goals on seven shots in the first period but turned aside the final 35 shots he faced to help St. Louis hang on for the victory.
St. Louis won despite playing without forwards Patrik Berglund and T.J. Oshie, but both players were able to participate in an optional skate on Friday. Oshie is considered questionable for Game 2, while Berglund expects to miss Saturday's test.
Brent Seabrook notched a goal and an assist, while Johnny Oduya and Patrick Kane potted a goal apiece for the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks, who received 48 saves from Corey Crawford.
Early on, Kane, who missed the final 12 games of the regular season with a lower-body injury, capped a high-scoring first period by breaking a 2-2 deadlock when he converted a breakaway off a slick stretch pass from Jonathan Toews with just 1:36 left in the period.
The reigning Conn Smythe Trophy winner Kane beat Miller with a wicked wrister from the slot, but it was the last time the puck found the back of the St. Louis cage.
"I know we had a couple power plays where we could have maybe scored and made it 4-2 which would have been nice," Kane said of his team failing to score after the first period. "It definitely would have been nice to get another one and give us a little insurance."
The Blackhawks won their second Cup in four years last spring and are no stranger to mounting postseason comebacks. Chicago trailed Boston 2-1 in the Cup Finals a year ago before winning three straight to take the series and also overcame a 3-1 deficit to eliminate Detroit in the 2013 Western Conference semifinals.
Game 3 of this series is scheduled for Monday in Chicago and the fourth test is set for Wednesday.
04/19 10:36:49 ET
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