Patrick Kane said it as much Tuesday. He wanted the Chicago Blackhawks to have “a hand” in making sure the St. Louis Blues do not make the Stanley Cup Playoffs this year.
That was Patrick Kane talking the talk.
Last night, the Blackhawks walked the walk.
Fueled by three of their rookies and a very, very, very timely goal from one Duncan Keith, the Blackhawks overcame a 3-1 deficit to hand the Blues a shocking 4-3 defeat.
Keith actually played hero way before he scored his second of the year (!), a power play tally with 8.5 seconds left in the third period. He saved a goal early in the first, a wraparound attempt by Blues forward Jaden Schwartz to capitalize on Blackhawks goalie J.F. Berube being out of position.
Robert Bortuzzo scored the first goal of the game for the Blues on a redirect. The Blackhawks answered back four minutes later, when Andreas Martinsen picked up a botched pass by Dylan Sikura to Artem Anisimov and wristed it past Blues goalie Jake Allen.
The Blues, at this point outplaying the Blackhawks in every aspect of the game (except maybe goaltending), went up 3-1 early in the second, courtesy of a power play goal by Brayden Schenn and a breakaway goal by Vladimir Tarasenko. The Blackhawks cut the deficit to one goal halfway in regulation, when rookie defenseman Blake Hillman scored his first career NHL goal, a shortie that somehow went past Allen.
Alex DeBrincat, who on Tuesday also expressed his desire to “crush” the Blues’ hopes of a playoff berth, delivered on that promise, beating Allen with a far-side wrister from the right circle, tying the game at three goals a piece with 11:30 left in the game. That tally, his 28th of the year, broke his tie with Kane for the team lead in goals.
After Patrick Sharp drew a penalty from Blues d-man Chris Butler with two minutes left in regulation, the Blackhawks power play, the 29th worse in the league, scored what may be the biggest goal of the season. Keith, who’s struggles have been especially noteworthy on this down season, silenced the ScottTrade Arena with his game winning goal, the sixteenth of his career.
With the loss, the Blue’s playoff hopes now hinge on winning the last two games of their season, Friday versus the Blackhawks and Saturday against the Colorado Avalanche. With the Anaheim Ducks also clinching their playoff spot last night, the Blues and the Avs will not battle it out for the last wildcard spot in the West.
The Blackhawks are halfway there in ensuring that St. Louis have the hardest time possible in making it to the Big Dance. Let’s hope that they tighten the screws even more Friday night.