ST. LOUIS – Duncan Keith needed only three words to describe the importance of Patrick Kane’s goal 3:07 into the second overtime Thursday night that propelled the team to a 4-3 win over the St, Louis Blues.
“Saved our season,” Keith said.
And thanks to that goal, the Chicago Blackhawks lived to play another day.
The defending Stanley Cup champions were facing elimination in Game 5 of their opening-round playoff series against the Blues before Kane decided he was not ready for their season to end, and not without him having done something to prevent it.
Kane, who had not scored a goal in the first four games of the series after scoring 46 in the regular season, finally broke that drought when he deked through the slot and flipped a shot on goal that Brian Elliott got a piece of to knock wide. But Kane swooped around the net and swept the rebound in on the backhand.
It was the fifth career overtime goal in the playoffs for Kane and the 49th of his career in the playoffs. The five overtime goals ties Kane for third all-time in Stanley Cup history.
“He’s a clutch player,” said Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville. “Obviously, he’s a great player. Not a lot of players can do what he did, or does.”
The Blackhawks’ win cut the Blues lead in the series to 3-2 and sent it back to Chicago for Game 6 Saturday (8 p.m., NBC).
If a seventh game is necessary it will be Monday night in St. Louis.
Kane has been a big reason why the Blackhawks are now 8-1 when facing elimination since the beginning of the 2013 playoffs, but he was not happy with his contribution to the team in this series, or even in Thursday night’s game, before his overtime goal.
“I don’t think I was very good in that first overtime or very good at all tonight,” Kane said. “It’s one of those things I tried to tell myself just to get confidence going into that fifth period and try to make some plays.
“I was fortunate enough that that puck squeaked to the side and I was able to wrap one in. ... When you get those kind of opportunities, sometimes you come up big. Sometimes you get lucky, too.”
The Blackhawks had appeared to take control of the game with three goals in the second period, including a short-handed goal from Marian Hossa – his 50th career goal in the playoffs – and a goal by Artemi Panarin with just 0.4 seconds left in the period.
But the Blues, who had come from behind to win both Games 3 and 4 in Chicago, responded once again with two goals in the third period. Robby Fabbri scored his first career playoff goal before David Backes tied it 5:10 left in regulation. The Blues had a chance to win the game when they got a power-play with 4:14 to go after Chicago was called for having too many men on the ice, but couldn’t score and the game went to overtime.
The Blues outshot the Blackhawks 11-7 in the first overtime period but could not get the puck past Crawford.
“It was tough to give up another lead like that,” Crawford said. “But we didn’t crack.”
Partially because of both team’s recent playoff history, the Blues did not expect the Blackhawks to go away quietly. The Blues have not won a playoff series since 2012 and have lost in the first round each of the past three years.
“The hockey gods are testing us right now,” said Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo, who assisted on all three of the St. Louis goals. “I thought we deserved to win the game. We’re still up 3-2.
“It’s going to be fun here to win it in Chicago,” he added. “That’s the game plan right now. Their backs are still against the wall.”