A wild 5 goal first period kicked off the St. Louis Blues – Chicago Blackhawks series with a bang and it looks like it is going to be every bit the ice war that most people predicted. But the teams settled down and played rough and tough hockey for more than 100 minutes before Alex Steen scored the winner 26 seconds into the third overtime period to allow the Blues to draw first blood, both literally and figuratively.
Chicago captain Jonathan Toews was cut open after being crunched by Blues forward Ryan Reaves, a hit that also aggravated his previously injured shoulder. Toews stayed in the game, but it will be a concern going forward against the punishing Blues.
There were 5 goals in the first period as Chicago got to Ryan Miller 3 times on the first 7 shots to take a 3-2 lead. Adam Cracknell opened the scoring for St. Louis, but Johnny Oduya and Brent Seabrook responded to put the Hawks in front before Vladimir Tarasenko tied it up. Patrick Kane scored on a breakaway late in the period to put the Hawks ahead, and it looked like that might be enough.
However, Jaden Schwartz tied it up with just 1:45 left in the third to force overtime, and lots of it. Both teams had numerous chances to score in the extra frames, but Miller and Corey Crawford were equal to the task. Miller was bailed out on one occasion by forward Maxim Lapierre, who fell to his knees on the goal line to deny Kris Versteeg of an easy open net goal late in the first OT period.
After the shaky start, Miller settled down and stopped the last 39 shots he faced while Crawford made 48 saves in the loss.
This is going to be a battle, and it will continue on Saturday afternoon when they take to the ice for game 2.