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Five keys for Blackhawks vs. Blues, Game 3

Kane's finishing touch, fast start by St. Louis could tilt series

by Amalie Benjamin @amaliebenjamin / Staff Writer

CHICAGO -- The one thing that's known about the Western Conference First Round series between the Chicago Blackhawks and the St. Louis Blues: There will be at least a Game 5, after the Blackhawks won Game 2 Friday to tie the series at 1-1.

Here are five keys for Game 3 on Sunday (3 p.m. ET; NBC, TVA Sports, SN).

1. Shake it off

Things did not go the way the Blues would have preferred Friday, with a goal by Vladimir Tarasenko overturned and a goal by Andrew Shaw not overturned, leading to the 3-2 win by Chicago. Not only did that shift home-ice advantage to the Blackhawks, but it might have put a seed of doubt into the minds of the Blues, who haven't been able to get out of the first round the past three years.

The Blues need to get over the decisions of the officials so they can move on.

"I think everyone's been there before," forward Paul Stastny said Saturday. "It's not a young team here. We have experienced guys, and that's what happens in a playoff series. There's highs and lows. You play every other day, you forget about it, it's always one game at a time. If you worry too much about it, those are the teams that will be unsuccessful and use that as an excuse.

"It's early in the series. It's frustrating, yeah, but I think once we woke up [on Saturday] morning, we already forgot about it and we're focused on [Game 3]."

2. Quick start

The Blues need to start off Game 3 well.

If they don't, if they go down by a goal or two early, if they have a slip, that could be tough to come back from in the game and in the series, given what happened Friday. It would be a huge boost, meanwhile, to get out to a fast start against the Blackhawks in their building.

Whether it's the suddenly hot Tarasenko or Game 1 hero David Backes or anyone else down the line, the Blues need someone to take the reins and put them back in the right mindset to continue on in what should be a close, low-scoring, tight series.

Video: CHI@STL, Gm2: Tarasenko scores off feed from Schwartz

3. Get greasy

Chicago is at its best in the Stanley Cup Playoffs when it's getting goals around the net. That was the case in Game 2, when Shaw scored the go-ahead goal in the third period from in close.

The Blackhawks need more of that, whether it's Shaw or his teammates bearing down on Blues goalie Brian Elliott, who has had a good two games to begin the postseason.

There has been little space to do anything else, really, which makes it all the more important to get in close where a loose puck or a bad rebound can be converted. Not that Elliott has given up many of those in the series.

"It's not easy to get there," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. "They're a big team. They have some big defensemen. They make it tough to get to the tough area. They box you out, and there's a price to pay once you get to the tough areas. Not only is it willingness, there's a way to get there when you can get there; the pucks have to arrive at the right time, lanes to get the shots through are challenging as well. Teams block shots, they block lanes to get to the net, and you have to be willing to travel there. It's not easy."

Video: CHI@STL, Gm2: Reaves puts a big hit on Seabrook

4. Leading from the top

There have been some chances for the Blackhawks' top line, but there haven't been enough. And the group hasn't scored. So the line of Andrew Ladd, Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa needs to start producing.

"I felt like we had good chances," Hossa said, of Game 2. "Obviously, we didn't capitalize on them because the game is extremely tight. They're playing well defensively. Give them lots of credit. It's really bottled up there to find the chances. But I thought we had some good looks, and that's a good sign."

Now they need to take those chances and convert them into points. That begins with Toews.

5. And Patrick Kane too

Kane has had some of the best chances on Elliott, but he hasn't scored. He does have two assists.

Kane, who scored 46 goals this season, just needs to add the finish to the opportunities that he has found himself with over the first two games.

Kane has been handed a heavy load of ice time, playing 23:41 in Game 2, second only to Duncan Keith (30:59) on the Blackhawks.

Eventually that will yield goals. Chicago would be very happy to see that happen Sunday.

Video: CHI@STL, Gm2: Elliott denies Kane with blocker

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