Blues down Blackhawks in OT
ST. LOUIS — Vladimir Tarasenko and St. Louis were in trouble Saturday before a vicious hit by Chicago defenseman Brent Seabrook provided an opening for the Blues.
That little crack was all St. Louis needed to put another dent in the Blackhawks’ bid for a second straight Stanley Cup title.
Seabrook’s blow to the head of David Backes led to a 6-on-4 power play for St. Louis that ended with Tarasenko’s tying goal with 6.4 seconds left in regulation, and low-scoring defenseman Barret Jackman ended the game with a drive through traffic, giving the Blues their second straight 4-3 overtime victory over the Blackhawks and a 2-0 series lead.
“Those seeing-eye shots, I couldn’t believe it went in,” Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said.
St. Louis took the opener in triple-overtime and fought off a Chicago rally in a game that began less than 39 hours later. Game 3 is Monday night in Chicago.
Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford tossed his equipment around in the locker room before meeting with reporters. He said he was screened a bit on the game-winner, adding, “I had my pads together, but there was a little space there and it just kind of squeezed through.”
Addressing the tying goal, Crawford said: “It’s frustrating, but whatever. I’m not going to cry about it. We’ve just got to work harder.”
Jackman is the longest-tenured Blues player in a career dating to 2002, and totaled three goals and 15 points in the regular season. He has two career playoff goals, both in overtime and both giving the Blues a 2-0 series lead, also stunning the Kings in the first round in 2012 — although the Kings recovered to take four straight.
“We were taking some big hits and kept our composure,” Jackman said. “And in the end, one squeaks in.”
St. Louis rallied after Seabrook received a five-minute major and game misconduct penalty for his hit on Backes that could lead to a suspension for one of Chicago’s top defensemen. The Blues captain had to be helped off the ice, went straight to the locker room and did not return for the extra period.
“I have no thoughts on the hit, that’s up the league,” Hitchcock said. “How do you think he is? Not great. Let the league deal with it.”
Seabrook said he wasn’t trying to hurt Backes.
“I feel bad seeing a guy like that on the ice,” Seabrook said. “I’ve been there myself. I wasn’t trying to target his head or do anything like that.”
Blue Jackets 4, Penguins 3
PITTSBURGH — Matt Calvert banged home a rebound 1:10 into the second overtime and the Columbus Blue Jackets earned the first playoff victory in franchise history with a win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday night.
Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury stuffed the initial shot by Cam Atkinson but Calvert stood all alone at the left post and wristed a shot into the open net to even the Eastern Conference quarterfinals at one game each.
Game 3 is Monday in Columbus.
Jack Johnson tied the game with 6:01 left in regulation for the Blue Jackets. Ryan Johansen also scored the first playoff goal of his career for Columbus. Sergei Bobrovsky overcame a shaky start to finish with 39 saves.
Brian Gibbons scored twice and Matt Niskanen added his second goal of the playoffs but Pittsburgh was outplayed for much of the final three-plus periods. Fleury made 41 stops but was helpless on the game-winner.
Avalanche 4, Wild 2
DENVER — Gabriel Landeskog scored twice and Semyon Varlamov stopped 30 shots, lifting the Colorado Avalanche to a victory over the Minnesota Wild on Saturday night and a 2-0 series lead.
The Wild were unable to contain the quickness of teenager Nathan MacKinnon, who had a goal and three assists. Stastny, the star of Game 1, also had a goal and three assists. His empty-netter sealed the win after Marco Scandella made it a one-goal game with 1:19 remaining.
Charlie Coyle also scored early for the Wild.
Game 3 is Monday in Minnesota.