If the Blackhawks have taught us anything over the last six years, it’s that they never go away. No matter the deficit they may face or the adversities that hang around them, the Blackhawks morph into an un-killable beast that never gives up.
Just ask the St. Louis Blues. Once in possession of a commanding 3-1 series lead, the Blues now have to travel back to St. Louis to play Game 7 after dropping two straight games to the defending Stanley Cup champions. Most recently, the Blackhawks rallied back from a 3-1 deficit in the first period to overcome the Blues and take Game 6 by a score of 6-3.
In the first period, the Blackhawks jumped out to an early lead after Andrew Ladd beat Brian Elliott high-glove side to give the Hawks the 1-0 advantage just over three minutes into the game. Shortly after that, Blackhawks forward Andrew Desjardins missed a shot into a wide-open net that would have given the Blackhawks a 2-0 advantage. Instead, the Blues came right back and just eight seconds later, Scottie Upshall scored on a 2-on-1 to even up the game at one goal a piece.
Just two and a half minutes later, Alex Pietrangelo added a goal of his own to give the Blues a 2-1 advantage. Fast-forward another two minutes and Vladimir Tarasenko threw a puck past Corey Crawford to give the Blues a 3-1 lead. Any energy and momentum inside the United Center was immediately gone after the Blues scored three goals in just under five minutes. What was once a promising start quickly turned to trouble for the Blackhawks.
When the second period rolled around, the Blackhawks found themselves in a 3-1 hole and were in dire need of two goals to tie the game and stay alive in the playoffs. Just over four minutes into the second period, Marian Hossa fired a shot at Brian Elliot and the rebound bounced straight in the air and found Artem Anisimov in front of the net and he chipped the puck into the net to cut the Hawks deficit to only one.
With 7:39 remaining, Richard Panik skated into the Blackhawks offensive zone alone, waited for a streaking Jonathan Toews and then dished the puck to Toews who found Trevor van Riemsdyk (TvR) on the right side of the net and tapped the puck home to tie the game at three goals a piece.
Following the goal by TVR, the United Center crowd gave the Blackhawks a standing ovation that lasted the duration of the commercial break and continued until the puck was dropped to start play once again.
After the game, Andrew Shaw, who was back after serving a one game suspension in Game 5, commented on the prolonged standing ovation the team received during the break. “That was probably the loudest I’ve ever heard the United Center. My ears were buzzing.”
Less than four minutes later, Artemi Panarin held the puck behind the net and dished it to Dale Weise who fired a one-timer past Elliot to give the Blackhawks a 4-3 lead.
TvR took an untimely penalty with two minutes to play in the second that resulted in a power play for the Blues. Despite several excellent chances from the Blues on the power play, the Blackhawks killed off the penalty and entered the locker room with a 4-3 lead.
With a one-goal lead, the Blackhawks took the ice on the third period and were immediately bombarded by an outstanding offensive attack from the Blues. Despite several odd-man rushes and quality chances, the Blues couldn’t find an equalizer and with 4:50 to go in the game, Jay Bouwmeester took a hooking penalty that gave the Blackhawks a man-advantage.
After passing the puck around for the majority of the power play in order to kill time, Patrick Kane found Andrew Shaw in front of the net and Shaw fired home a shot past Elliot to give the Blackhawks a 5-3 lead and all but guarantee a trip back to St. Louis for Game 7. The Blackhawks added on an empty-net goal from Marian Hossa and never looked back as they scored five unanswered goals to knock off the Blues 6-3.
Despite the thrilling Game 6 win, the Blackhawks know that what they’ve done so far means nothing if they don’t come out of Monday with a win. “We’ve got a great chance, a lot of work left to do, a great chance to find a way to survive in Game 7,” said Jonathan Toews to reporters after the game.
Andrew Ladd echoed the sentiments of Toews by adding, “We haven’t done anything yet, right? We just wanted to give ourselves a chance to get to a Game 7 and we achieved that.”
They’ll get that chance on Monday night at 7:30 p.m. in St. Louis. And as everyone knows, once the puck is dropped, anything can happen in a Game 7.