Their two-goal lead in the third period evaporated quickly, and the Chicago Blackhawks found themselves in a shootout against a goalie who already had made 37 saves in St. Louis’ Jaroslav Halak.
Needing a win to get closer to a playoff berth against the team with the most points in the NHL, Chicago turned to Dave Bolland.
Bolland, 0-for-3 in shootouts this season before Thursday, responded with a nice fake before scoring the only goal in the shootout Thursday night as the Blackhawks edged the Blues 4-3.
The Blackhawks needed a victory and for Phoenix to lose to San Jose in regulation later Thursday night to clinch their fourth straight trip to the postseason. But Chicago will have to wait another day because the Coyotes beat the Sharks 2-0.
”You’ve got 20,000 fans screaming,” Bolland said. ”You’re thinking of so many moves in your head. For me, it was go down and whatever came to my head, try to put it in.
"You’re not really sure. Should I shoot? Should I deke? Should I just bury my head and put it through him. Halak’s a good goalie.”
After Bolland — the Blackhawks’ fourth skater — scored, St. Louis’ Patrick Berglund hit the goalpost, sealing Chicago’s victory.
Kris Russell’s long slap shot through traffic was tipped in by David Perron with 1:32 left in regulation to tie the game, rallying the Blues after Chicago had taken a 3-1 lead early in the final period.
”I still think it’s big point for us this time of year, and we’ll take it,” Perron said. "The way we played at the point when it was 3-1, I’m not sure that we’d get one (point), but we battled back and finally got one.”
Said Chicago goalie Corey Crawford, who had 17 saves in regulation and overtime, ”I don’t think we should have gone to overtime. I was sleeping a little bit on their second goal. … Just forget about it and find a way to win that one.”
The Blues, who have a league-leading 106 points, could have clinched the Central Division title with a victory. That also has been delayed.
It was the second straight game between the Blackhawks and the Blues at the United Center to go to a shootout. And Chicago won them both.
”We were outplayed bad. I don’t even know how we got a point, to be honest with you,” Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. ”We didn’t compete at a high level. It looked like we wanted the game to be easier.
”We jacked it up for about 10 minutes in the third period and got two goals because of it, but we’re not going to win many games against that team playing like we’re playing. This is two games in a row in this building where we really haven’t competed for 60 minutes.”
Bryan Bickell had Chicago’s first goal in the first, followed very quickly by a score from the Blues’ Alexander Steen.
After Andrew Brunette’s rebound goal put the Blackhawks in front 2-1 at 4:15 of the third, Patrick Sharp scored at 8:40 for a 3-1 lead. But 55 seconds later, the Blues’ Jason Arnott poked the puck in past Crawford to make it a one-goal game.
Halak stopped a shot attempt from the side by Marian Hossa and, after Kane couldn’t get control of the puck with a St. Louis player in the net, Brunette knocked it in. Sharp made a steal and then scored on a break after a pass from Viktor Stalberg for a two-goal advantage. But Arnott scored unassisted from close-in on the left side.
Bickell’s shot from above the left circle deflected off Halak and into the net for a 1-0 lead. But just nine seconds later, Steen took a long diagonal pass, skated past Chicago defenseman Nick Leddy and fired a rising shot past Crawford to tie it.
Notes: Chicago captain Jonathan Toews missed his 18th straight game because of a concussion. Toews skated again Thursday and said he’s close to being cleared for contact. ”We’ll see where we are at next week, I guess,” Toews said. ” But right now, like I said, I’m feeling great.” … Blues LW Andy McDonald (shoulder) was a scratch. … Halak (6) and Brian Elliott (9) and have combined for 15 shutouts. … Blackhawks D Duncan Keith served the third game of a five-game suspension for elbowing Vancouver’s Daniel Sedin in the head.