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.
The forward was battling in the paint with the Blues’ Jay Bouwmeester when the puck landed at Shaw’s stick and he knocked it in with a back-hander.
It was a rare spark from the Hawks’ power play as it was just their second goal while up a man in their first 16 opportunities.
In the latter stages of the period, Kane put the Hawks ahead 2-0 after converting off a terrific pass from Johnny Oduya. The defenseman carried the puck deep into the Blues zone and fired the puck across the ice to Kane, who fired in a one-timer.
The crowd of 22,123 was rocking as it sensed a Hawks blowout in the making, but disaster struck in the waning moments of the second when the Blues tied it with goals 1:05 apart.
First, Tarasenko cut the deficit in half with the Blues on the power play.
With T.J. Oshie camped in front of Crawford, Tarasenko’s shot from the top of the left circle eluded the screened goalie.
With the clock winding down in the period, Lapierre tied it 2-2 when he corralled the puck after a scramble and sent a shot that hit the post, bounced off Crawford and trickled over the goal line.
It was the fifth time in the series the Hawks had yielded a Blues goal within the final 1:45 of a period and the second time it happened with less than seven seconds remaining.
©2014 Chicago Tribune
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