CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville had his “here we go again” moment as his team was stumbling in the final minute and a half of the second period against the St. Louis Blues in Game 4 of their first-round series on Wednesday.
The Blackhawks had just minutes before put themselves in the best position they had been in during the entire series. They had built a 2-0 lead with less than four minutes remaining in the second period. With scores so difficult to come by in this series, a two-goal lead seemed nearly insurmountable in less than 25 minutes of action remaining.
The Blues obliterated that assumption quickly.
They scored twice in the final two minutes of the second period. The second goal came with 3.1 seconds remaining in the period. The Blues carried that momentum into the third period, scored a third consecutive goal and went ahead 3-2.
“We certainly weren’t happy,” Quenneville said. “We were going along the game fine and perfectly. I know we took too many penalties in that second period, but you got a 2-0 lead back in that period, another power play [for them] and they scored on it. And the one at the end of the period kind of reminded me of the one in the late last seconds in Game 2. Here we go again.”
In the end, Quenneville wouldn’t have to relive the gut-wrenching feeling of the Blues snatching a victory away from his team as they did in Games 1 and 2.
With the game and likely the series on the line, the Blackhawks responded with their own late, game-tying goal from Bryan Bickell and completed the job in overtime -- for the first time in three OT tries in the series -- as Patrick Kane delivered the winner.
“It was do or die,” Bickell said. “We didn’t want to be down 3-1 going into their building in a couple days.
“They’ve come back twice in the first three games, and I think we have the same character, do or die. I think everybody stepped up when times were needed and, again, we’re happy to get the win.”
The win resets the series for the Blackhawks. After dropping the series’ first two games in St. Louis, Chicago won two straight and get another crack at winning in the Blues’ building.
Blues coach Ken Hitchcock understood who possessed the edge heading back to St. Louis.
“They got the momentum now,” Hitchcock said. “We've got to take it back. We've got two of three at home, but we've got to take the momentum back. These have been two really hard-fought games here. This is a momentum builder for them, and we've got to find a way to regroup and take it back from them. That's a big challenge for us.
“I think we're up to it, but we're going to have a little bit of a heart-to-heart, get back on our toes again. The way we played in the second and third period was really good, and that's what we've got to get back to as much as we can.”
Quenneville was ecstatic to win Game 4, but he also appreciated the series for what it had been with three of the four games going to overtime and the other essentially being a one-goal game.
“You can’t say enough how competitive it’s been --four games and the battles, the resiliency and the win,” Quenneville said. “It was a huge win for us and got us back to even. We got the momentum and let’s go in there, look to sustain it.
“We’re looking at a tremendous series to date, making it even more [dramatic] heading into the Game 5. Can’t say enough how competitive it’s been.”
Quenneville was asked what it would take to win a Game 5, 6 or 7 in the series.
“We’re going to find out,” he said with a laugh.