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updated: 4/18/2014 12:35 AM

Blackhawks give away chance to steal Game 1

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  • Backing up goaltender Ryan Miller, Blues center Maxim Lapierre blocks a shot that got past Miller in the first overtime during Game 1 between St. Louis and the Blackhawks on Thursday night.

    Backing up goaltender Ryan Miller, Blues center Maxim Lapierre blocks a shot that got past Miller in the first overtime during Game 1 between St. Louis and the Blackhawks on Thursday night.
    Associated Press


The defending Stanley Cup champs have plenty of experience handling adversity.

And they'll need all of their knowledge right out of the box.

The Blackhawks missed a golden opportunity to steal Game 1 in St. Louis as the Blues rallied at the end of regulation and then won it 4-3 only 26 seconds into the third overtime with Alex Steen beating Corey Crawford to end the playoff marathon.

Steve Ott was something of an afterthought in the huge deal that brought goaltender Ryan Miller to St. Louis at the deadline, but it was Ott who made a sweet dish to Steen for the game-winner.

Crawford was brilliant for the Hawks, who took a 3-2 lead into the third but played most of the period in their own end, relying almost entirely on their goaltender.

With the Blues outshooting the Hawks 14-6, it was only a matter of time, and Jaden Schwartz finally beat Crawford with 1:45 left in regulation to tie the game at 3-3.

St. Louis was the better team the first three periods, but the Hawks took over and had the better chances through the first two extra sessions.

Still, Hawks coach Joel Quenneville is going to want his team to play with that pace to start Game 2 on Saturday afternoon. "We were close to getting to done (in regulation)," Quenneville said. "We're gonna have to find a way to win one here."

Miller was acquired for the expressed purpose of leading the Blues to the Stanley Cup Final, but he was bad down the stretch of the regular season as his team went to pieces, and it was more of the same early in Game 1 of the playoffs Thursday night.

Miller had an awful 20 minutes in a wild first period that saw the Blackhawks take a 3-2 lead on only 7 shots.

"Usually, the first game teams tend to feel each other out a little bit," said Patrick Kane. "Pretty wild first period."

The Blues struck first with a fourth-line goal, the Hawks got the next two from their defense _ Johnny Oduya and Brent Seabrook _ on brilliant passes from Brandon Saad and Kris Versteeg, but a Marcus Kruger turnover led to the tying goal and it was 2-2 when St. Louis went to the power play.

The Hawks were fortunate to escape unscathed and just as the penalty kill ended, Jonathan Toews made a 90-foot pass up the middle to spring Kane, who walked in and fired it between the legs of a frozen Miller for a 3-2 Hawks lead late in the first.

"I saw their defense ahead of me and it was just a great pass by Johnny," Kane said. "It was a pretty good feeling after being out a bit to score one."

Early in the second on a routine save, Miller got a sarcastic ovation from the St. Louis faithful, hardly what he expected from the home crowd.

The 33-year-old Miller was the star of the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver but hadn't been in a postseason contest since 2011 when Buffalo went out in the first round for the second straight year.

Miller, however, turned his game around and stopped several point-blank chances in overtime, including a couple on a late power play in the fourth period and a break by Patrick Sharp in the second overtime.

In general, the Hawks looked a bit slow in regulation but picked up their play in overtime, a pace Quenneville will want to see for three periods -- or more -- come Saturday.

Quenneville hoped the Hawks would flip the switch early this playoff season after a sluggish start a year ago.

Instead, they've allowed a broken team with a battered goalie to regain confidence and take a 1-0 series lead, and they have to play again 36 hours after a 100-minute game and a heartbreaking defeat.

Adversity, once again, is their middle name.

• Listen to Barry Rozner from 9 a.m. to noon Sundays on the Score's "Hit and Run" show at WSCR 670-AM.

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