Brian Elliott blanks Blackhawks as Blues win in OT
David Backes scores OT winner
Throwing the puck toward the net turned out to be good enough for the St. Louis Blues to take the series opener against the defending Stanley Cup champions.
David Backes scored at 9:04 of overtime on a shot that deflected off a Chicago Blackhawks defenceman and the Blues took the series opener 1-0 on Wednesday night in St. Louis.
"I said out there, that's an ugly goal and I specialize in those," the Blues' captain said. "Rightfully so. First shot of the game for me, too."
Backes' shot got past Corey Crawford after bouncing off Trevor Van Riemsdyk's skate. Defencemen Jay Bouwmeester and Alex Pietrangelo assisted on the winner.
"I kind of felt it hit the inside of my pad and from there I was just hoping that it died," Crawford said. "It was a tough bounce, but we've got to feel good about how we played."
Brian Elliott earned his first career playoff shutout. Elliott, who led the NHL with a .930 save percentage, made 35 saves to thwart a lineup led by scoring champion Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews. He made just his second playoff start in three seasons off an impressive finish, going 11-1 in his final 14 starts.
"I don't really have words right now, it's just a great atmosphere," Elliott said. "The guys came through."
The Blues had 10 shutouts during the regular season, seven of them on the road. Jake Allen had six of the shutouts.
Coach Ken Hitchcock thought there were enough chances for a 6-5 game, and thought the game-winner would be more impressive, too.
"I thought it would be a 2-on-1, top shelf," Hitchcock said. "I wasn't thinking fluky goal, but we'll take it. We'll take every win we can."
St. Louis cruised into the postseason with the third-best record in the NHL, winning eight of its last 10 games.
The Blues opened their previous series against the Blackhawks with a pair of overtime victories, with Alexander Steen getting the winner in triple overtime in the opener. But Chicago won the last four, two in overtime.
The Blackhawks were 4-1 in overtime last season in the playoffs, including a double-overtime win at Nashville in Game 1 of their opening series.
"That's the type of goal that gets scored in overtime," Chicago defenceman Niklas Hjalmarsson said. "But they deserved it too, and we've got to find a way to score."'
This was the Blues' first 1-0 playoff game since losing May 4, 2013, in Game 3 of the first round at Los Angeles, and their first 1-0 overtime playoff game since April 8, 2004, a loss in Game 1 of the first round at San Jose.
The Blues were at full strength for the first time all season after Backes and Allen were cleared from lower-body injuries.
Elliott had the best save in the first two periods, stopping Toews on a breakaway near the midway point.
Blues penalty killers were busy in the scoreless first period, surviving three minors in a span of 3:32 and 36 seconds of a two-man advantage. The Blackhawks had an 11-4 advantage in shots, but St. Louis had several good chances that missed the net.