St. Louis Blues' Kevin Shattenkirk (22) collides with Chicago Blackhawks' Bryan Bickell (29) during the third period in Game 2 of a first-round NHL hockey playoff series, Saturday, April 19, 2014, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Bill Boyce)
Updated: May 21, 2014 9:49AM
ST. LOUIS — Early in the second period, with the Blackhawks trailing 2-0 and reeling a bit, Corey Crawford made a routine stop, followed by what has become a routine post-whistle scuffle. This time, Crawford stood up after freezing the puck and delivered a two-handed shove to St. Louis’ Ryan Reaves. After a few more shoves by a few more guys, Kris Versteeg took a run at Derek Roy and earned himself a two-minute roughing minor.
Afterward, captains Jonathan Toews and David Backes had a nice long chat with referee Brad Meier. But it’s clear that the officials are having a hard time reining in both teams in this increasingly physical rivalry.
“There were some moments that were just confusing, some stuff that was called against us after the whistle,” Toews said. “Granted, it went their way as well. Some little things that we don’t want to get frustrated. We don’t want to get too heated with the calls we don’t agree with, but we know that’s going to happen, and we’ve got to keep playing through that.”
Crawford was particularly upset with the immediate aftermath of Brent Seabrook’s devastating hit on Backes, when Alexander Steen came in hot to avenge the play.
“Their guy comes flying in and throws his gloves off and starts throwing punches like crazy,” Crawford said. “I don’t know why nothing was called there. Call [Seabrook for] five minutes is fine. You got your point across. Apparently, guys are allowed to come in flying into a scrum throwing punches, and that’s fine, that’s OK. Whatever.”
The Blues backed into the series having lost their last six regular-season games, with a lengthy injury list and a nonexistent offense. Now with two wins under their belt, they’re starting to resemble the team that led the league for most of the season.
“We found our game,” defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said. “We spent a lot of time preparing for this series, and everybody’s on board. . . . It’s obviously tough losing guys like we did at the end of the season. I still believed we were doing a lot of good things. We weren’t getting the bounces that we needed to get. This team is unbelievable, the way we stick together and the way we stick to the game plan, whether it’s three overtimes or one.”
That said, the Blues know how close they were to being down 2-0.
“The way that these games have gone, you have to respect that Chicago was a shot away in both these games, too,” goalie Ryan Miller said. “That’s the weird part about hockey: It can go your way a couple of nights, and you just have to keep working and hope it works out the next few nights.”
Blues coach Ken Hitchcock was bracing for a wild game. He got one.
“The order of the day is chaos,” he said before the game. “Be prepared to play in the chaos.”