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Blackhawks batter Blues to advance

Chicago,  IL (SportsNetwork.com)  - The  Chicago Blackhawks  have cleared  yet 
another hurdle in their quest for a second straight Stanley Cup. 

For the St. Louis Blues, it was another bad moment of deja vu. 

And once again, Jonathan Toews came through on the game's biggest stage. 

Toews' score 44 seconds into the third period began a four-goal barrage in the 
final frame that carried the Blackhawks to a 5-1 Game 6 victory over the Blues 
that wrapped up a thrilling Western Conference quarterfinal series between the 
longtime rivals. 

Four  of  the first  five meetings  were decided in  overtime, the most recent 
Chicago's  3-2  triumph in Friday's Game  5 on Toews' eighth career postseason 
game-winner. There was no need for sudden death in Sunday's clincher, however, 
after  St. Louis  unraveled over the final 20 minutes following a dominant but 
frustrating second period. 

Corey Crawford kept the Blues scoreless in the second despite St. Louis owning 
a  17-3 advantage  in shots, and Toews,  Patrick Sharp and Andrew Shaw all lit 
the  lamp within  the  first  7 1/2  minutes  of the  third  to  turn a  nail- 
biting contest into a blowout. 

"They  were  dominating the first  40 minutes and we  came back with maybe our 
best period of the year," said Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville. 

Duncan  Keith  tacked on  another goal  late for good  measure and added three 
assists, with defense partner Brent Seabrook tallying a pair of helpers in his 
return  from  a three-game  suspension for  a check  to the  head of St. Louis 
captain David Backes in Game 2. 

Crawford stopped 35-of-36 shots overall to once again outduel counterpart Ryan 
Miller,  who managed just 22 saves in the Blues' fourth consecutive loss after 
taking the first two games in overtime. 

It's  the second straight year St. Louis blew a 2-0 series lead in the opening 
round.  The Blues  dropped four  straight  to a  Los Angeles  Kings team  that 
eventually fell to the Blackhawks in the 2013 West finals. 

They appeared poised to force a Game 7 after peppering Crawford all throughout 
the  middle session,  but the  Chicago netminder  was up  to the  challenge to 
virtually  single-handedly  keep the score  deadlocked at 1-1 heading into the 
third. 

Chicago  then  showed its  championship pedigree,  capitalizing on its scoring 
chances to leave no doubt of the final outcome. 

Keith,  whose  heady  outlet pass  led  to  Toews'  winner  in Game  5,  saved 
the puck in the Blues' zone to set up the go-ahead marker in this one as well. 
He  quickly fed  Toews in the right  circle, where the star center skated into 
the  slot and  fired  a well-placed  attempt  into the  upper  left corner  as 
Miller went low. 

It  was  a 3-1  lead  a  mere  77 seconds  later,  as  Sharp blocked  a  Kevin 
Shattenkirk shot to create a breakaway in which the Blackhawks' sniper slipped 
a shot underneath Miller while being hooked from behind. 

"We  played  a great first two  periods, but I  thought the third goal ... you 
could  see a  big sag  on the  team  after that,"  said Blues  head coach  Ken 
Hitchcock. 

Chicago didn't let up, with Keith rocketing a shot that landed right on Shaw's 
stick as the latter was stationed to the right of Miller at the 7:30 mark. The 
two teamed up again for the final goal, where Miller overplayed Shaw's pass on 
a  2-on-1 rush and  Keith tapped the puck into a wide-open left side with 2:55 
remaining. 

Toews, also credited with the deciding goal in the Blackhawks' pivotal 2-0 win 
in  Game 3, broke  the franchise record he had shared with Jeremy Roenick with 
his ninth career postseason game-winner. 

Chicago  now awaits  the winner  of the  Colorado-Minnesota series,  which the 
Avalanche hold a 3-2 edge heading into Monday's Game 6 in St. Paul. 

Both  clubs  scored once  during an  evenly played  opening period, with Bryan 
Bickell  giving  Chicago a 1-0  lead 4:12 in by  redirecting a long wrist shot 
from Seabrook following an extended stay by the Blackhawks in St. Louis' end. 

The  Blues  drew even with  3:32 left in the  frame. Crawford made the initial 
stop  on  a drive by Jay  Bouwmeester, but Alexander Steen cradled the rebound 
and sent a behind-the-net wraparound pass that T.J. Oshie knocked home from in 
close. 

                                   Game Notes 

The  team that  scored first won all  six matchups in the series ... The Blues 
have  now lost  11 of  their last  12 playoff  series that  were tied  2-2 ... 
Chicago  is now 11-2  since 2009 in playoff games it can clinch the series ... 
St.  Louis finished  0-for-6 on the power  play and was just 2-for-29 with the 
man  advantage for  the series ... Seabrook logged six points (two goals, four 
assists) in the three games he appeared in. 

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