ST. LOUIS – Jonathan Toews caught the St. Louis Blues’ defense napping after the Chicago Blackhawks got a lucky carom.
Just like that, the puck was in the net and the defending Stanley Cup champions were in command of the best-of-seven Western Conference first-round series.
“I wasn’t even sure where their D-men were,” Toews said after scoring at 7:36 of overtime to give the Blackhawks a 3-2 victory Friday night and a 3-2 series lead. “Just got going as fast as I could. Take advantage of a chance.”
Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford stopped a shot by David Backes, defenseman Duncan Keith cleared the puck and the rebound deflected off Andrew Shaw’s shin pad all the way to the Chicago captain alone at center ice off a change. Toews sped in with two defensemen in futile pursuit and threw a few fakes at goalie Ryan Miller before slipping a backhander into the net.
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“I was just saying to some of the guys in the other room, I’m trying to get the puck out of the zone and all of a sudden it lands on his stick,” Keith said. “Couldn’t believe it. So, I was pretty happy seeing that.”
St. Louis defenseman Roman Polak saw Toews coming off the bench but reasoned the Blues had control, so he left the ice about the same time Backes was shooting. Replacement Jay Bouwmeester never had a chance, and Toews also got behind Jordan Leopold.
“It was a lucky bounce or something,” Polak said. “It was just a lucky bounce.”
Marian Hossa and Ben Smith also scored for the Blackhawks, who have won three in a row and can wrap up the first-round series at home Sunday. Four of the first five games in the series have gone to overtime.
“I think we got lucky on that winning goal, but I don’t think that at the end of the day we win because of luck,” Keith said. “I think both teams have a lot of fire and grit and a lot of determination, and it’s a fine line between winning and losing.
“Like I’ve said a few times, we’re going to need our best game of the year our next game.”
T.J. Oshie and Alex Pietrangelo scored for the Blues.
“What’s pouting going to do?” St. Louis forward Alexander Steen said. “You just get back on the horse. It’s a game. You have to win four. They have three, we have two. Off to Chicago we go. See you there.”
Flyers even series
PHILADELPHIA – Steve Mason stopped 37 shots for his first career playoff victory, Matt Read and Jakub Voracek scored, and the Philadelphia Flyers evened their first-round East matchup against the New York Rangers with a 2-1 victory in Game 4.
Dominic Moore scored for the Rangers, who host Game 5 on Sunday at Madison Square Garden.
Ducks rout Stars
ANAHEIM, Calif. – Ryan Getzlaf had a goal and two assists in his return from an upper-body injury, and the Anaheim Ducks scored four power-play goals in a 6-2 victory over the Dallas Stars to take a 3-2 lead in their West first-round series.
Corey Perry also had a goal and two assists for the Ducks.