ST. LOUIS, April 25 (UPI) -- Jamal Mayers scored 6:23 into the third period Thursday night to snap a tie and lead St. Louis to a 5-3 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks that pushed the Blues into the Western Conference semifinals.
St. Louis eliminated Chicago, four games to one, despite the fact Brent Johnson's shutout streak ended at 207 minutes, 44 seconds.
The St. Louis goaltender finally surrendered a tally to Steve Thomas at 4:34 of the second period. Johnson had blanked Chicago in the previous three contests after losing Game 1.
"We just told him to make the big saves and we'd get him a couple of goals and we did that," St. Louis captain Chris Pronger said.
Mayers received a kick pass from Ray Ferraro behind the Chicago net and cycled around to the right faceoff circle. In one motion, Mayers spun around and fired a shot that snuck between goaltender Steve Passmore's pads to give the Blues a 4-3 advantage.
"Every time I take a shot on goal, I'm hoping to score a goal," Mayers said. "But tonight, I don't know if I shot it quicker or if I kind of surprised him. I'm glad it found a way to get in there."
"We finally found a way to solve Johnson and get some goals and I didn't find a way to stop the puck," Passmore said. "I thought we played with a lot of confidence tonight and if it wasn't for me, we'd be going back to Chicago and playing again and that's the bottom line."
Keith Tkachuk sealed the victory with 4:04 remaining, netting his first goal of the playoffs.
Tyson Nash was in the penalty box for interference when defenseman Phil Housley blasted a slap shot from just above the left circle. The puck hit Calder on the doorstep and trickled toward the crease. Calder jabbed it over the goal line before Johnson could get his glove on it, giving the Blackhawks a 2-1 lead.
Twenty seconds later, Chicago struck again.
After being held scoreless through the first four games, Tony Amonte fired a shot toward the net from below the right circle. The puck deflected off Johnson's stick and went right to Igor Korolev low in the left circle. Korolev backhanded a pass to Sullivan in the slot and the diminutive right winger knocked it past Johnson for his first goal of the series.
"I'd want the second goal back because I was off-balance," Johnson said. "The first and third goals were pretty good goals. I may have overplayed the third goal, but he had all the time in the world and I thought he was just going to shoot."
But Scott Young scored 78 seconds later to cut the Blues' deficit to one and Pronger got the equalizer with 2.2 seconds to go in the session.
Young unleashed a wrist shot from the left faceoff dot that snuck between goalie Steve Passmore and the left post for his 38th career postseason tally.
"Cory (Stillman) just had a great second effort and he ended up diving to get that puck out to me," Young said. "I was in a good spot to shoot. He stuck with it and that's what you need to do, especially in the playoffs. Scoring chances were few and far between, but we seemed to get a few more tonight and we capitalized on them."
With time running out in the period, Pronger slapped a bouncing puck from the bottom of the left circle past Passmore to draw the Blues even.
"We responded well to being down a couple of goals," Blues Coach Joel Quenneville said. "We really hadn't trailed that much during the series, so we got into more of an attack mode in the latter part of the second. The goal by Pronger to tie it was huge. It turned out to be a gigantic goal."
"If we hold on after getting that 3-1 lead for the last seven minutes of the second period, we go into the third with that lead," Sullivan said. "And I can guarantee you that this hockey club would have held on for the win. I thought that things were going our way. We were playing hard, everyone was battling and making a contribution and it showed in the 3-1 lead. But a couple of lucky bounces tied it up and that was that."
Scott Mellanby put the Blues ahead, 1-0, with a power play tally with 17 seconds remaining in the first period.
Defenseman Al MacInnis started the play with a pass to Pavol Demitra in the left circle. Demitra spotted Mellanby in the slot and threaded a pass that the right winger one-timed into the net for his third goal of the series.
Thomas ended the longest postseason scoreless drought in Chicago's history with his 50th career playoff goal.
Defenseman Lyle Odelein's pass from the right point deflected off a St. Louis player and right to Thomas, who was stationed in the left circle. Thomas backhanded a shot that rose over Johnson's right shoulder and off the post for the Blackhawks' first tally since defenseman Alexander Karpovtsev's game-winner with 3:10 remaining in Game 1.
Johnson stopped 32 shots en route to his fourth straight win. He had become the first goaltender in NHL history to record shutouts for his first three playoff victories. Ottawa's Patrick Lalime equaled the feat Wednesday.