For the past few days everyone seemed focused on the health of injured Blues stars T.J. Oshie, who didn't play Thursday, and David Backes, who did.
Kind of lost in the shuffle was the return of St. Louis forward Vladimir Tarasenko, who had been out of action 15 games with a hand injury that was supposed to keep him out six weeks but wouldn't be denied a chance to play in Game 1 against the Blackhawks.
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"You're talking 6-7 hours a day at the rink," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock marveled about Tarasenko's rehab regimen. "He's basically had two practices with somebody and now he's going to play in a playoff game."
Tarasenko looked like he hadn't missed a beat, especially early on. He thwarted a Hawks swarm in the early minutes by laying out to block a Duncan Keith shot.
Then later in the period he took a sweet pass from Kevin Shattenkirk and one-timed one past Corey Crawford to tie the game at 2-2.
Winning 'em over:
Any time Brandon Bollig plays in St. Louis it's a big deal. But in a playoff game?
"The fact that we're here in the postseason now and it's a whole new ballgame makes the atmosphere that much more special," said Bollig, who was born and raised in suburban St. Louis. "As the minutes and hours go by and we get closer to game time I'm more excited."
And each time back Bollig seems to be winning over more and more converts.
"All my buddies and family members have converted pretty quickly. I'm doing what I can to get other people, too," he said. "It's pretty funny to see what people have to say when they're going to work and they're rooting for me and their co-workers are rooting for the Blues.
"It's all in good fun."
It was no surprise to see defenseman Michal Rozsival in the lineup for Game 1.
"It's a situation we're comfortable with him in all areas," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "You can play him in all situations. He can absorb more workload than he normally would in the course of a season and it keeps him fresh, keeps him ready."