Make no mistake, it was an epic clash of two division rival titans in the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. One team was going to move on, the other was going to go home.
It was St. Louis that had to earn home ice in round one over Chicago, and it paid dividends when the two teams met for a 7th and final, winner-take-all game to decide who was going to move on. It did not disappoint.
For the Blues, it was about a fast start. They got the jolt they wanted just one minute into the opening period, when Jori Lehtera tipped in a shot that deflected off the ice and into the net behind Crawford for an early 1-0 lead. The Blues would make it 2-0, and looked to be pulling away early, when Colton Parayko let one go from just inside the offensive zone blue line that ricocheted of the left post and into the back of the net 13 minutes and 43 seconds into the first period.
It would be the Hawks who’d respond next.
With time ticking down in the first period, Chicago’s Marian Hossa skated in and fired a laser glove side on Brian Elliott that met the mesh to cut the St. Louis lead in half at 2-1. It looked to be turning some of the momentum back in the Hawks favor, and on what turned out to be the only Hawks power play, just 3 minutes and 20 seconds into the middle period, it was Andrew Shaw’s centering effort that bounced off a defender and trickled underneath Elliott’s left pad. The game was knotted at 2-2.
On came the third period:
It was like it was meant to be. An offseason move for the Blues brought forward Troy Brouwer into the picture, and the script could not have been better on Monday night. It was Troy Brouwer and the Hawks that lifted the Cup in 2010, but on this night, he’d be facing his former team with the opportunity to send them home and punch a ticket to the next round. With a tie game and nearing the halfway point of the third period of play, the Hawks turned the puck over in the neutral zone. There to take it was St. Louis, and what ensued was the deciding play of the game, and of the series. Paul Stastny fed Robbi Fabbri across ice into the left corner. Fabbri looked up to find Troy Brouwer alone in front of Crawford. He passed it to the middle, and Brouwer redirected the puck off the right post. Crawford tried to scramble back to the left, but Brouwer was able to slide the puck into the yawning cage. 3-2, St. Louis.
There is no question that every move made during the offseason for the Blues paid off in what will now become an opportunity for a deep playoff run. After defeating the Hawks 4 games to 3, the Blues have earned a place in the Western Conference Semifinal against the Dallas Stars. It will be their first appearance in the second round since 2012.
But the Blues will be looking to get much further than round number 2.
If there is one thing that they’ve been able to make clear, it’s this…
This is not the same Blues team. They can handle the adversity, something they’ve proven with the slew of injuries in the lineup all season long, and something they proved in game 7 on Monday night.
Gotta Be Monday Nights:
Did you know that the St. Louis Blues once overcame a 3 goal deficit with just 12 minutes to play in a playoff game against the Calgary Flames, which they eventually won in overtime, back in the 1986 playoffs. That game happened to be played on a Monday night, and so today, the game is known as “The Monday Night Miracle.”
Troy Brouwer’s goal was his first ever game 7 tally.