When the Blues and Blackhawks took the ice in Game 2 on Friday night, it was more of the same of what we saw on Wednesday night during Game 1. The Blues dominated the game physically while the Hawks dominated the game offensively for the majority of the game. By the end of the night, the Blues outhit the Hawks 41-25 and even outshot the Hawks 31-29. But at the end of it all, it was the Hawks who led the Blues when the clock struck zero.
The first period of the game featured back-and-forth action on both sides of the puck and both teams had opportunities to find the back of the net. The Blues outshot the Hawks 7-2 in the first period but the score remained 0-0 through 20 minutes.
In the second period, it was the Blues who drew first blood as Blues forward Jori Lehtera hit Blackhawks defenseman Michal Rozsival in his defensive end, stole the puck and then passed it to Jaden Schwartz who found forward Vladimir Tarasenko in front of the net for an easy goal as the Blues took a 1-0 lead. Right as it looked like the Blackhawks and Blues would enter the third period with the Hawks trailing by a point, Blues forward David Backes iced the puck with 7.2 seconds left which resulted in an offensive draw for the Blackhawks. Jonathan Toews won the faceoff and passed it back to Duncan Keith who fired home a one-timer that snuck past Blues goaltender Brian Elliot and found the back of the net with just three seconds remaining in the second period. The Blackhawks and Blues headed into the locker room at the second intermission tied up at 1-1.
When the third period rolled around, the Blackhawks and Blues played wide-open hockey that led to chance after chance for each team but neither could convert. Elliot stoned Patrick Kane on a breakaway and on the other end of the ice, Corey Crawford denied several breakaway attempts from the Blues forwards. With 7:46 remaining in the third, Tarasenko was left all alone in front of the net and buried a puck past Corey Crawford that appeared to give the Blues a 2-1 lead over the Hawks.
After discussion with his players and coaching staff, Chicago Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville challenged the play, insisting that the Blues were offside. After a lengthy delay to review the call, the on-ice officials determine that Lehtera entered the offensive zone just slightly ahead of the puck, which resulted in an offside and disallowed the goal.
A little more than three minutes later, the Blackhawks dominated possession on their offensive end of the ice and after a scrum in front of the net, Blackhawks forward Andrew Shaw snuck the puck past Elliot to give the Hawks a 2-1 lead with 4:16 to play.
Immediately following the play, Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock challenged the play, claiming that the Blackhawks interfered with Brian Elliot and didn’t allow the goalie to play his position. After yet another lengthy review, the on-ice officials determined that there was no contact made with the goalie prior to the puck going in, which meant that the goal on the ice stood and the Hawks had a 2-1 lead with just over four minutes to play.
Shortly after, the Blues pulled their goalie for an extra attacker in hopes of finding an equalizer to send the game to OT. With 1:26 to play, Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith sent a puck along the boards that was redirected by forward Artemi Panarin and found it’s way into the back of the empty net to seal the Hawks victory over the Blues. The Blues would tack on one more goal with 1.1 seconds left to make it 3-2 and that’s how the game would end.
After the game, Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock minced no words on how he felt about the calls on the ice regarding both challenges. “We played a very good hockey game and we lost. The calls didn’t go our way…when you play the defending Cup champions; you’re going to have to fight through a lot of stuff. That’s the way it is…Calls aren’t going to go your way, you’re not going to get the officiating you want. It’s going to seem like it’s one-sided.”
When Joel Quenneville was asked about challenging the Blues goal for offside, Quenneville said that he didn’t notice the play was offside at first. “Somebody said on the bench it’s offside. I was screaming like a crazy man.”
The Blackhawks and Blues play Game 3 of the series on Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. Game 4 is scheduled for Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. and Game 5 will be Thursday at 8:30 p.m.