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Blackhawks aim to break through in St. Louis

by Brian Hedger


(Best-of-7 series tied 2-2)


Big story: The series is heading back to St. Louis for Game 5 at Scottrade Center with a completely different feeling to it after the Chicago Blackhawks held serve in two games at United Center to draw even with the St. Louis Blues.

Chicago is looking for its first series lead despite being winless in St. Louis in five games, three in the regular season and two in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"We know this team loves to play in their home building," Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said Thursday. "They're a really tough team to play when they're at home with their own crowd. So we'll be prepared for that, but at the same time we feel like we were pretty close to finding a way to win both times we were there in their building [in Game 1 and Game 2]. Hopefully this time is the time we can find a way to crack through and get that win there."

St. Louis is reeling a bit. A 4-3 overtime loss Wednesday followed a missed chance to go up 3-0 in the series in Game 3, when the Blues lost 2-0 despite outplaying the Blackhawks for much of the game.

Team Scope:

Blackhawks: Once again, Chicago has taken a statistically tough spot and turned it upside down. After coming back from a 3-1 series deficit in the 2013 Western Conference Semifinals to beat the Detroit Red Wings on their way to a Stanley Cup championship, the Blackhawks have climbed out of another hole against the Blues.

It's now a best-of-3 series, and Chicago looks to be in pretty good shape with Patrick Kane and Toews back in elite form following late-season injuries.

"I think the odds are in our favor right now," forward Andrew Shaw said. "The last two games have been huge for us. We had a good push, the push we needed, and I think the guys are excited to get the next one started."

This is the last game top-pairing defenseman Brent Seabrook must sit out while serving a three-game suspension for an illegal hit in Game 2 that injured Blues captain David Backes.

Blues: Once again, much of the pregame focus will focus on Backes' health. He missed the two games in Chicago, didn't skate Thursday and remains a question mark heading into Game 5.

The Blues have lost the momentum in the series, but the bright side is that two of the final three games, if three are necessary, will be on home ice.

"We knew going there [to United Center] that it was going to be tough," defenseman Jay Bouwmeester said. "It's not the easiest place to play. We still have home ice, we had a couple close games. It's not been one-sided games or anything like that. You just keep going. It's a three-game series now and that's the way you approach it."

After going 1-for-8 on the power play in the two games at United Center, the Blues have scored twice in the series with the man-advantage in 21 opportunities, a 9.5 percent success rate.

Who's hot: Kane has three goals and one assist in the series after scoring twice and assisting on a goal by Shaw in Game 4. … St. Louis forward Vladimir Tarasenko scored twice Wednesday and has four goals in the series.

Injury report: Blues forward Brendan Morrow (foot) is out for the remainder of the series. … The Blackhawks are healthy.

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