ST. LOUIS -- The Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues face off for Game 2 of their Western Conference first-round series at the Scottrade Center on Saturday. The Blues lead the series 1-0. Here’s what to watch for:
Blues coach Ken Hitchcock didn’t reveal prior to the game whether forwards T.J. Oshie and Patrik Berglund would play in Game 2 after missing Game 1 with injuries. Hitchcock said both players would play at some point in the series.
The Blackhawks scored three goals within seven minutes and 10 seconds of the first period in Game 1 on Thursday, but failed to score again over the game’s final 82:02. Blues goaltender Ryan Miller stopped the final 35 shots he faced.
Stamina could come into play in Game 2. Both teams had players play heavy minutes in the three-overtime game. Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo had a game-high 44:08 of ice time. Duncan Keith led the Blackhawks with 40:59 of ice time.
The two teams combined for five goals in the first period and two the remainder of the game. Both teams expected the production pace for the rest of the series to be more similar to the second period on.
The Blackhawks were able to get behind the Blues several times for breakaways in Game 1. Patrick Kane was the lone Blackhawk to convert on one. Hitchcock thought stopping those were key to the Blues’ success. “We need to be less surprised by numbers behind us,” he said. “If we can do that, we can negate some of the easy ones we gave up because they’re such a good team at 50-50s where you think you’re on offense and the next thing you know there’s a guy standing behind you on a breakaway.”
All three games between the Blackhawks and Blues in St. Louis included late third-period goals by the Blues. The Blues scored in the final minute of the third period to snatch a 3-2 win in their first game on Oct. 9. The Blues had some late heroics again on Dec. 28 and scored two goals in the final four minutes of the third period to erase a 5-3 deficit. The Blues won 6-5 in a shootout. On Thursday, the Blues tied the game with 1:46 remaining in the third period to force overtime.
The Blues have excelled in one-goal games this season. They improved to 25-5-7 in such games after Thursday’s win. The Blackhawks are 17-9-15 in one-goal games. The Blackhawks were 9-2 in one-goal games during the playoffs last season.
The Blackhawks will be looking for more from their power play the rest of the series. They were 1-for-6 on the power play Thursday. The Blackhawks have scored multiple power-play goals just once in the last 25 games. The Blues have allowed their opponents 62 power plays over the last 14 games.