Right wing Vladimir Tarasenko scored on a couple of outstanding wrist shots while Brian Elliott made 39 saves as the hockey betting favorites St. Louis Blues defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 4-3 for a 3-1 lead in their first-round NHL playoff series. Jaden Schwartz scored a tiebreaking power-play goal in the 3rd period for the second game in a row. St. Louis appear has gotten the upper hand on its first appearance in the Western Conference semifinals since 2012, after being eliminated in the opening round in the last three years.
Duncan Keith scored two goals for Chicago, which lost back-to-back home playoff games for the first time since 2012. Andrew Shaw scored a goal and made two assists, while Corey Crawford ended with 16 saves after a fight with Blues rookie Robby Fabbri in the second period, after the forward was pushed into the goaltender on a rush to the net. Both players brawled on the ice while the fans chanted Crawford’s first name. The ensuing scuffle generated a power play for the Blackhawks. Fabbri, Alex Pietrangelo and Kevin Shattenkirk were sent off for St. Louis, and Crawford and Ladd were penalized for Chicago.
With Keith also in the box for holding Alexander Steen, Schwartz intercepted a clearing attempt by Trevor van Riemsdyk and beat Crawford low on his stick side at 1:36. Schwartz also made the game-winning goal in St. Louis’ 3-2 victory in Game 3. Steen picked off a passing attempt by van Riemsdyk and went in on Crawford for his first goal of the series at 4:46, silencing the capacity crowd. A lucky bounce for Keith off Tarasenko’s stick and over Elliott gave the ’hawks a glimmer of hope, but Elliott squashed it. He jumped on a loose puck during a Chicago rush with 4:10 on the clock, and Shaw was penalized for interference with 2:04 left.
Prior to Schwartz and Steen breaking through, it all Tarasenko once again for St. Louis. The winger has three goals and two assists in the series and 13 goals in 17 career playoff games. The Blackhawks had a 2-1 lead before Andrew Ladd was whistled for interference at 17:09 of the second. A mere 22 seconds later, Tarasenko whistled a shot under Crawford’s glove for the tying goal. Tarasenko’s goal ended a frantic second period.
During the power play following the Crawford-Fabbri skirmish, Keith scored on a rebound to give the reigning Stanley Cup champions a 2-1 lead at 13:09. Chicago got off to a quick start, but St. Louis kept most of the action away from Elliott in the first. The Blues also had a reprieve when Artem Anisimov’s shot stopped right on the goal line and Elliott knocked it out of the way before the Blackhawks could get to it. St. Louis made just five shots on goal in the first, but one of them was unstoppable and made it 1-0 at 14:02. The rest is as they say history – which is what Detroit is bound to become at hockey betting NHL playoffs odds of +145.