St. Louis Blues (52-23-7) at Chicago Blackhawks (46-21-15)
|Date & Time||Monday April 21, 2014, 8:30 PM (EDT)|
The Line: Chicago Blackhawks / St. Louis Blues --- Over/Under:
|TV Channel||Stream NHL games all season on ESPN+ for only $4.99 a month. Sign up now!|
As entertaining as Game 2 was on Saturday afternoon in St. Louis, most of the talk afterwards revolved around Brent Seabrook's hit on David Backes late in the third period. Seabrook lined up Backes in the corner, delivering a blow to head and sending the rugged captain of the Blues backwards into the boards. As scary as the hit was, it was the aftermath that was even more painful to watch. Backes tried getting to his feet and getting back into the scrum but could barely stand up. It was clear from looking at him that he was dazed and the odds of seeing him back in the lineup for this one is extremely slim. The same can be said for Seabrook who has a hearing with the National Hockey League at noon on Sunday. The odds are Seabrook will be suspended and that leaves both of these clubs without two very important players in their lineups. As far as the hockey game went, it was the second game in a row that saw the Blackhawks with an opportunity to win but they were unable to hold the lead late. In Game 1 Jaden Schwartz with 1:45 remaining in regulation to even the game at 3-3 before Alexander Steen's game winner eventually came 26 seconds into the third overtime period. Saturday afternoon it was the penalty call on Seabrook that led to the equalizer. With the Blues on the power play and the goaltender pulled it was Vladimir Tarasenko converting on a wrist shot through traffic with just seven seconds remaining. Once again the Blackhawks failed to close out the game and it cost them both times. Things ended in a much quicker fashion this around with Barret Jackman scoring the game winner to give St. Louis the 2-0 lead in the series. Heading into this first round match up everyone was expecting the Blues to be a quick out against the defending Stanley Cup Champions. St. Louis really struggled down the stretch and despite the regular season they put together everyone knows that it's how you're playing heading into the post season that matters most. Add in all of the injury issues that the Blues were dealing with and it looked like the Blackhawks would have the upper hand. Instead, St. Louis has gotten some players back and they've elevated their game. Chicago was playing poorly in this hockey game and it looked like they might go faintly before Duncan Keith got them on the board late in the second period. The goal gave the Blackhawks life heading into the third period and Chicago came out strong, tallying twice in the first 6:38 on goals by Seabrook and Michal Rozsival. It would stay that way until Seabrook's penalty gave the Blues life and they ultimately would capitalize on it and win the game in overtime. Chris Porter made it 1-0 in the first period and Kevin Shattenkirk doubled the lead for the Blues with just two seconds remaining in the opening frame.
These two teams are so closely matched that it's hard to say a series is over until one of the clubs registers their fourth win. It's for that same reason however why it would be extremely difficult to believe the Blackhawks could come back if they fell behind 3-0. The silver lining for Chicago is that both of these losses came on the road in this series, but the way they lost each of these games is extremely difficult to swallow. Corey Crawford needs to make a big save when his team is desperate for one, and to this point he hasn't ben able to do that. Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane aren't a hundred percent back to form but this hockey club needs them to make a difference if this series isn't going to be over in a hurry. Look for the Blackhawks to feed on the home crowd in this one in a game they desperately need. This is a team that has been tested over the years and knows what they need to do to win. Chicago understands how long a playoff series is and if they just find a way to win a hockey game on Monday night the entire complexion changes.