Imagine, just a week ago, Chicago Blackhawks fans were pulling their hair out. Now, however, they’re getting ready for the next round after dispatching the St. Louis Blues in a 5-1 Game 6 victory. In a series where they could have been swept due to bad play, the Hawks slipped into bad habits again before a 4-goal third period proved to be the deciding factor.
The Hawks struck first when Bryan Bickell deflected a Brent Seabrook shot in the first period. But TJ Oshie equalized 12 minutes later on a goal that even he didn’t know he scored. The Blues controlled the pace for much of the second period because the Hawks could not stay out of the penalty box. The Hawks had five penalties in the game, including one Marian Hossa double-minor before the Blues they had their own.
But Jonathan Toews opened the third period with an easy goal on Ryan Miller and the power play and opened the floodgates. Patrick Sharp broke out of his funk just over a minute later with his first goal of the year, and Andrew Shaw deflected a Duncan Keith shot and then notched an assist with Keith again. The Blues were so shaken they could not mount any offense the entire period.
As mentioned earlier, it’s hard to believe that the Blues outplayed the Blackhawks last week. But thanks to Corey Crawford leading the way, the Hawks have played their best hockey all season. Unfortunately, that second period didn’t measure up.
It’s amazing the Hawks didn’t go down 3-1 in that period, what with them spending 8 minutes in the penalty box. Multiple opportunities were blown thanks to dumb play and bad penalties. Hossa’s high-sticking double minor could have been a big problem had the Blues not gotten their own penalty that, at least for two minutes, canceled it out. But the fact that the Blues controlled the play in that period was definitely concerning.
Still, the end result is what matters. Blackhawks fans should celebrate and relax for now. But it’s certainly not going to get any easier, especially if a certain team coached by Patrick Roy is their second-round playoff series. Still, dispatching an archrival always feels good. Now it’s on to the next round and the hard part.