CHICAGO | Gifted with a man advantage for six minutes in the second period Sunday and desperate to survive, the St. Louis Blues pounded, pounded and pounded the Blackhawks again.
And they came up with nothing.
Determined to play their style of hockey, the Hawks charged out of the intermission into the third period and locked up the Western Conference quarterfinals with a resounding 5-1 victory.
Chicago took full advantage of its own first power play of the game and cruised from there, completing the comeback from a 2-0 deficit with four straight victories. In the process, the Blackhawks booked some time off as they await the winner of Colorado Avalanche-Minnesota Wild series, the Avalanche leading 3-2, with Game 6 Monday in Minneapolis.
The Blues and Hawks remained deadlocked 1-1 throughout a middle period in which the visitors had the Hawks on their heels with a 17-3 shots advantage.
Chicago took three second-period penalties, including a four-minute double minor by Marion Hossa for high-sticking. Two minutes of the Hossa infraction was canceled out by an Alexander Steen slashing penalty.
“It wasn’t the only ugly period we’ve had this series,” Hawks captain Jonathan Toews said. “There were key moments we had to survive. The penalty kill was huge for us.”
Goalie Corey Crawford was huge, too, unyielding amid the Blues’ shooting gallery.
"It was getting a little bit long there, I think, with all the penalties we had to kill off," Crawford said. "But our guys stuck with it. Some big blocks.”
The game turned quickly when Toews took advantage of tripping penalty on Jay Bouwmeester that carried over from the end of the second period.
Duncan Keith, who finished with three assists and a goal, passed to Toews, who made a couple of stutter steps and slammed the puck past Blues goalie Ryan Miller with 44 seconds elapsed in the third for the 2-1 lead.
Brent Seabrook had a successful return after a three-game suspension after a hit on Blues center David Backes in Game 2. Seabrook launched a laser from the long range that Bryan Bickell redirected for the first Hawks goal early in the first period.
Seabrook shook hands on-ice with Backes.
“He’s obviously disappointed,” Seabrook said. “I’m not going to try to get into too much. We’ll get a chance to talk in the next couple of days.
“I’m not a player like that. I’ve been here for nine years, and you guys have seen the way I play. It was not my intention. It wasn’t deliberate. ... You don’t want go up there and hurt anybody.”