CHICAGO — The difference between heading to St. Louis down three games to one or even in a best-of-seven series was monumental, and no one knew that more than the Blackhawks.
“Important game,” coach Joel Quenneville said simply hours before puck drop Wednesday night for Game 4 of the first-round NHL playoff series between the Hawks and Blues at the United Center. “As you progress in the series they become bigger.”
Showing more flair for the dramatic, the Hawks rallied late in the third period to tie it on a goal by Bryan Bickell, and Patrick Kane scored the winner 11 minutes, 17 seconds into overtime to give the defending Stanley Cup champions a 4-3 victory over the Blues to even the series at 2-2 with Game 5 set for Friday night in St. Louis. It was Kane’s second goal.
Andrew Shaw and Bryan Bickell also scored for the Hawks and Corey Crawford came up with another strong effort in goal with 30 saves to send the Hawks on the road with momentum and confidence.
The bigger the stage, the more drama the Central Division rivals seem to bring. For the third time in the series, a team scored late in the game to send it to overtime. After the Blues turned the trick in Games 1 and 2, the Hawks were the spoilers when Bickell redirected a Michal Rozsival shot with 3:52 remaining to keep them from dropping into a deep hole in the series.
The Blues got two goals from Vladimir Tarasenko and another from Maxim Lapierre.
The Hawks came out of the dressing room flying and dominated the bulk of the play in the opening period.
Except for an exceptional effort from Miller — who got a little help from the right post — the Hawks would have gone into the dressing room with a lead. Instead, he halted excellent chances by Kane and Patrick Sharp, the latter while sprawled on the ice.
Bickell unleashed a wicked wrist shot that sailed past Miller’s glove but got all post and ricocheted out of harm’s way.
A series of penalties slowed the Hawks’ momentum in the first half of the second, but Crawford turned aside all chances. Finally, it was the Hawks’ turn with a man advantage after Lapierre was sent off for hooking Sharp and Shaw cashed in.