ST. LOUIS – The St. Louis Blues went the distance, and then some, to get the jump on the defending Stanley Cup champions.
Alexander Steen scored at 26 seconds of the third overtime to cap the longest playoff game in franchise history and give the Blues a 4-3 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series on Thursday night.
Steen beat Corey Crawford off a pair of short passes from Steve Ott and David Backes to end the marathon. Blues coach Ken Hitchcock greeted reporters for the postgame news conference with a hearty “Good morning.”
“It’s big. We want to start this series off on a good note,” Steen said. “Especially at home in front of our fans.”
Ryan Miller made 39 saves and blanked the Blackhawks after Patrick Kane scored on a breakaway to put Chicago up 3-2 late in the first period.
Jaden Schwartz tied it with 1:45 to go in regulation to send the game into overtime.
Alex Pietrangelo logged 44 minutes, 8 seconds of ice time. Two Blackhawks, Duncan Keith and Niklas Hjalmarsson, played more than 40 minutes.
Hitchcock called Miller “a difference-maker.”
“From the second period on, I thought he was great,” Hitchcock said. “Both goalies were outstanding.”
Crawford made 48 saves for Chicago. The Blackhawks weren’t panicking.
“I think the big thing for us is we have to realize it’s only one game and we’ve got a quick turnaround coming back,” Kane said. “That’s the best part about it, we get right back at it.
Game 2 is Saturday afternoon.
“We’ve got to move ahead,” Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. “We knew it was going to be a tough series from the start. We almost got through it.”
The Blues’ previous longest overtime game was a 4-3 loss at Detroit in 1984 that extended 37 minutes, 7 seven seconds. The home record for a playoff overtime game was 33:49 of extra time in a 5-4 win over Chicago on April 20, 1989.
St. Louis had to kill off delay-of-game penalties for shooting the puck into the stands in the first two overtimes and Quenneville argued vehemently for a second delay of game that would have given Chicago a 5-on-3 advantage in the first OT. The Blackhawks killed off a holding penalty in the second overtime.
Jonathan Toews, like Kane back from a lengthy injury absence, had two assists for Chicago.
Schwartz, Vladimir Tarasenko and Adam Cracknell all scored their first playoff goal for the Blues.
The Blackhawks kept the Blues pinned in their own zone for 2:10 during the first overtime, and Maxim Lapierre made the save of the session getting his body on a drive by Kris Versteeg with less than two minutes remaining.
Tarasenko was among the best players coming off a 15-game absence because of a broken thumb.
Cracknell tapped in a rebound early in the first to end a scoring drought of 148 minutes and 39 seconds for a team that got shut out the last two games of the regular season.
Kane scored his 30th career playoff goal after catching the defence napping at the end of a St. Louis power play, beating Miller off a long lead pass from Toews for a 3-2 lead at 18:24 of the first.
Miller allowed three goals on just seven shots in the first with defencemen Johnny Oduya and Brent Seabrook also scoring for Chicago.
“They had a couple of nice shots in the first, but I had to come out and battle,” Miller said. “Luckily I got ahold of a few of them.”
St. Louis’ top line of David Backes, Steen and Ott was a combined minus-5 in the first. Ott was a bit of surprise, considering he was minus-7 during the Blues’ six-game losing streak to end the regular season.
Crawford faced just three shots in the second, but needed big saves to thwart Tarasenko and Ott. He made glove saves on drives by Steen and Tarasenko not long before Schwartz got the equalizer.
NOTES: Blues defenceman Jay Bouwmeester, who has the longest consecutive game streak in major sports at 717 games, left in the first overtime and did not return. Hitchcock said Bouwmeester was dehydrated. … Oduya and Seabrook combined for 10 goals in the regular season. Oduya’s goal was first credited to Kris Versteeg on a deflection. … St. Louis got most of its injured players back but key forward T.J. Oshie (head) and Patrik Burglund (shoulder) were scratches. … Kane had two goals and four assists against St. Louis in the regular season and Toews had a goal and three assists.