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Blackhawks even series on Kane's OT winner

by Brian Hedger

CHICAGO -- It took more resolve and two goals by Patrick Kane, but the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks ground out a series-tying victory against the St. Louis Blues Wednesday night at United Center.

Kane scored his second goal of the night at 11:17 of overtime to give Chicago a 4-3 victory and even the Western Conference First Round series at 2-2. Three of the four games have needed OT to decide a winner.

Game 5 in the best-of-7 series is Friday at Scottrade Center (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS2, FS-MW, CSN-CH). The home team has won all four games, with the Blackhawks taking two in their own building to even the series.

"We kind of have the momentum now," Kane said. "We know it's going to be a tough game in Game 5 in their building. They're going to be fired up and that's always a tough place to play, pre-season, regular season or playoffs. So, we'll expect them to get better and we'll get better too."

Kane took a pass from Ben Smith in the defensive zone, raced up ice into the Blues' zone during a 3-on-3 rush and roofed a wrist shot from the left circle that beat St. Louis goaltender Ryan Miller over the shoulder to end it. Prior to the shot, Smith charged down the slot toward the net and forward Brandon Saad headed toward the back side of the net on the right wing to distract Miller.

"Their defensemen pinched, so we had kind of like a 2-on-1 [or] 3-on-3 kind of thing going down the ice," Kane said. "[Saad] made a good play driving to the back post and gave me some space to try and get a shot off. I just tried to pull it to the middle and get it by their defenseman. I used him as a screen and it went in."

Andrew Shaw and Bryan Bickell also scored for the Blackhawks, who coughed up 3-2 third-period leads and lost in overtime in each of the first two games.

Vladimir Tarasenko scored two goals, his third and fourth of this year's Stanley Cup Playoffs, and Maxim Lapierre had his first of the postseason for the Blues.

"Oh, they've got the momentum now," St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock said. "We've got to take it back. We've got two of three at home, but we've got to take the momentum back. These have been two really hard-fought games here. This is a momentum-builder for them, and we've got to find a way to regroup and take it back from them. That's a big challenge for us."

Corey Crawford made 30 saves in the win. Miller also finished with 30 saves.

Chicago needed Bickell's goal with 3:52 left in regulation to force overtime. After coughing up a 2-0 lead and falling behind 3-2 in the third period on Tarasenko's second goal, the Blackhawks found a way to flip the tables on the Blues. St. Louis erased 3-2 third-period leads in each of the first two games before winning in overtime.

This time, it was the Blues who failed to capitalize one several opportunities to extend their lead after they went up by a goal.

"Where the game was lost was when we took it over and we're up 3-2 and we miss those four chances," Hitchcock said. "We could've been up [4-2 or 5-2]. We left it out there and got caught in our zone [on Bickell's goal] and then in the overtime goal we had chances to shoot the puck three times in the [offensive] zone and didn't put it on the net ... wanted to stickhandle one more time."

Shaking his head, Hitchcock summed up the feeling by comparing it to what his counterpart, Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville, felt after the first two games.

"To have all those chances after [Tarasenko's goal] was something we needed and it's just unfortunate," Hitchcock said. "I now kind of know how Joel feels, you know? Tit for tat."

The first scoreless opening period of the series wasn't devoid of action, starting with the Blues putting two shots on goal against Crawford in the game's first 23 seconds. St. Louis actually controlled the play for much of the first five minutes and forced the Blackhawks to weather a storm in their own building right off the hop.

Eventually Chicago gained more time in the offensive zone. The Blackhawks finished the period with a 13-8 margin in shots and nearly opened the scoring for the second straight game on an attempt by Bickell a minute after their first power play expired. He fired a hard wrist shot from the left circle that snuck past Miller's glove and rang off the right post with 3:38 left in the period.

The scoreless tie disappeared during a wild second period, when Shaw and Kane gave the Blackhawks a 2-0 lead and the Blues came back with back-to-back goals by Tarasenko and Lapierre in the final 1:09.

Shaw scored his first goal of the postseason at 8:40 to make it 1-0 and give the Blackhawks just their second power-play goal in 14 chances to that point. Kane made it 2-0 at 16:09 with his second goal of the series by converting a perfect cross-ice feed from the half wall by defenseman Johnny Oduya.

"I've felt like every game I've probably gotten a little bit better," said Kane, who missed the final month of the regular season with a lower-body injury. "Whether that's timing or getting used to playing back in the playoffs, whatever it may be, I just keep trying to get better every game and use these games to [my] advantage to try to get back in the swing of things."

The Blues' fifth power play of the game sparked the comeback. Vladimir Sobotka won a faceoff in the offensive zone and got the puck to Tarasenko for a shot from the top of the left circle. The puck traveled through traffic, with Oshie screening Crawford, and hit the back of net with 1:09 left in the period.

Lapierre tied it with 3.1 seconds to play on a wrist shot from the right circle after Chicago failed to clear the zone. The puck hit the right post, came back to hit Crawford's left arm and bounced back into the net for a game-tying goal that gave the Blues a lift heading into the second intermission.

Crawford rebounded strong to keep it tied early in the third, but the Blues kept applying pressure until they took their first lead at 12:26 on Tarasenko's second goal. After collecting the puck off a blocked shot in the defensive zone, St. Louis defenseman Alex Pietrangelo sent a pass off the boards to Tarasenko in the neutral zone. He raced into the right circle and ripped a wrist shot that skipped off Crawford's glove and into the net for a 3-2 lead.

Crawford and his teammates could've easily folded at that point. Instead, they dug deep. Bickell tied it late and Kane -- who ended the 2010 Stanley Cup Final with an overtime goal in Game 6 -- came up with another OT game-winner.

"That's the way we've been all year," Crawford said. "That's the way we've been the last bunch of years. I mean ... stuff happens. There's things that aren't going to go your way throughout a game and you have to shrug it off and keep playing hard. I think when those things bother you, it changes the game. Maybe we lose that game 4-2 if we let that [second Tarasenko goal] get to us. But we didn't, and I think we came back even harder after they scored. It's just the way we are."

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