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Blackhawks confident they'll square series with Blues

by Brian Hedger


(St. Louis leads best-of-7 series 2-1)


Big story: The Chicago Blackhawks enter Game 4 with renewed confidence after a 2-0 win in Game 3 on Monday in their return to United Center.

"This is a tremendous emotional and passionate series in three games," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said Tuesday. "It's extremely close. I think that's, with the [Stanley Cup Playoffs], what makes it so special. You've got to find a way to keep persevering, finding ways and trying to overcome what's come in front of you."

The St. Louis Blues, who outhit and outshot Chicago on Monday, have a chance to take a commanding lead back home for Game 5 after winning Games 1 and 2 in overtime. The Blues then would have a chance to close the series Friday at Scottrade Center, where the Blackhawks haven't won in five games (three in the regular season).

"They felt like we got away with one in Game 2 and they got away with one in Game 3," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "So, 2-1 [in the series] for either team is probably where the series should be at."

Team Scope:

Blackhawks: Chicago went 0-for-4 on the power play in Game 3, their second straight game with that many unsuccessful attempts. The Blackhawks have one power-play goal in 16 opportunities for the series.

The penalty kill has staved off 15 of 16 St. Louis power plays, which resembles what happened when the Chicago won the Stanley Cup last year with a struggling power play and great penalty kill.

"I think the power play hasn't been effective [for] either side," Quenneville said. "I think both teams have been getting in lanes. I think our entries have been good. Outside of Game 2, I thought we got back [to] getting into the zone correctly. I just thought whether it's our shot selection or movement sometimes gets too predictable, but I still think the shots are what's going to create it all."

Chicago defenseman Brent Seabrook has two games left in a three-game suspension for an illegal hit on St. Louis captain David Backes in the third period of Game 2.

Blues: Backes sat out Game 3 with an upper-body injury stemming from Seabrook's hit. St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock said Backes won't return until he's healthy.

"If he's a player, the way he plays is going to have a huge impact in the series. So if he skated somewhere else and is in fine-tune conditioning, you'll see him [Wednesday]."

Alexander Steen took the role of centering the top line and won one of 11 faceoffs. Second-line center Vladimir Sobotka won two of seven draws and might've been hampered by an apparent hand or arm injury.

"We played fairly well, but not well enough to win the game," Steen said. "That's the bottom line. We're not in this to play well. We're in this to win."

Who's hot: Blues goalie Ryan Miller has given up four goals in 87 shots (.954 save percentage) after allowing three goals on the first seven of the series. ... Blackhawks forward Brandon Saad has an assist in each of the first three games, four total.

Injury report: Blues forward Patrik Berglund (upper body) returned to play in Game 3. Forward Brenden Morrow (undisclosed) returned for Game 3 but isn't expected back in the series. ... Blackhawks forward Andrew Shaw (leg or foot) struggled to get off the ice in the second period of Game 3 but never left the bench and stayed in the game.

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