Denis Savard and Rich Preston scored second-period goals tonight to give the Chicago Black Hawks a 2-0 victory over the St. Louis Blues and a berth in the semifinal round of the NHL's Stanley Cup playoffs.
By eliminating the Blues in the quarterfinal round four games to two in their best-of-seven series, the Hawks advanced to face the Vancouver Canucks beginning Tuesday night in Chicago in another best-of-seven series.
With the Chicago Stadium crowd chanting "Ton-ee! Ton-ee!" Chicago goalie Tony Esposito celebrated his 39th birthday with his fifth playoff shutout, dating to the 1970-71 season.
Esposito stopped 31 shots in getting his first playoff shutout since 1974, when Chicago beat Los Angeles, 1-0. Tonight, he was replacing Murray Bannerman, who had been slowed by a pulled muscle.
The Blues, who finished in third place ahead of the Hawks in the Norris Division, remained winless against Chicago in three playoff series.
Savard, who set a club scoring record this past season with 119 points, broke a scoreless tie midway in the second period when he took a pass from Glen Sharpley and lifted the puck over sprawling goalie Mike Liut for his eighth playoff goal.
A short time later, Chicago's Terry Ruskowski took the puck behind the St. Louis net and passed in front to Preston, who jammed the puck under Liut's pads for his third goal of the playoffs.