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Blackhawks face major challenge after two OT losses

by Dan Rosen

ST. LOUIS -- The Chicago Blackhawks have the type of composure and swagger befitting a team that has won the Stanley Cup twice since 2010. Now they need to show their thick skin and resiliency as well.

The Blackhawks were hoping to win at least one of the first two games at Scottrade Center in their best-of-7 Western Conference First Round series against the St. Louis Blues. Instead, they fly home down 0-2 following back-to-back 4-3 overtime losses.

Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko scored a power-play goal with 6.4 seconds left in regulation Saturday to tie the game and defenseman Barret Jackman won it for St. Louis with a seeing-eye slap shot through Chicago goalie Corey Crawford's legs 5:50 into overtime.

Not only is this Chicago's second straight overtime loss to start the series, the Blackhawks are in the 0-2 hole because they couldn't hold one-goal leads late in the third period of both games.

Jaden Schwartz tied Game 1 with 1:45 left in regulation before Alexander Steen scored the winner 26 seconds into the third overtime. Tarasenko and Jackman did the damage in Game 2.

Game 3 is Monday in Chicago (8:30 p.m. ET, CNBC, CBC, RDSI, CSN-CH, FS-MW).

"You're right there, six seconds away," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. "The other game was tough; it was tough losing with a buck and change. But [Saturday] was brutal."

After losing Thursday, the Blackhawks talked about leaning on their experience, about how it was only one game.

Judging by Quenneville's use of the word "brutal," which he said used twice after the game, getting over the Game 2 loss won't be as easy.

But the Blackhawks won't dare talk about that, even if there is some truth to it.

"It's hard to think about what could have been these last two games, but what are you going to do?" captain Jonathan Toews said. "We've got a great opportunity to go home and turn this thing around in our own building, and take that momentum and find a way to not let it go.

"We've had it late in the last couple games and we gave it up, [and they] come back and score in overtime, so it's not a good feeling. But like we did before [Saturday], we put the last one behind us and we move on to the next one. It's as simple as that. That's all we can do."

They could also play better in the first half of Game 3 than they did Saturday.

The Blackhawks went down 2-0 when Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk scored at 19:58 of the first period. They followed that by being outshot 6-0 through the first nine minutes of the second period before Quenneville changed his lines.

Quenneville moved Kris Versteeg off the top line and onto the third line with Patrick Kane and Andrew Shaw. On his first shift with his new linemates, Versteeg set up Duncan Keith for a goal with 2:35 left in the second period.

Chicago took over the game from there, scoring twice more in the third period on point shots by defensemen that deflected in off of Blues' forwards to take a 3-2 lead.

Brent Seabrook scored at 4:53 when his shot went in off of Blues center David Backes. Michal Rozsival scored at 6:38 when his knuckling shot hit Blues forward Kevin Porter, dipped and went past goalie Ryan Miller.

"Everyone started playing a little more physical, a little more emotion in their game. You saw the result," Toews said. "We were getting shots from the point. We were getting traffic. We were getting pucks back. We were winning battles. We did a lot of great things. We did what we had to do to win. We just didn't finish it."

They didn't give themselves the best chance either.

Seabrook was assessed a five-minute major for charging and a game misconduct for his hit on Backes with 4:51 to play in regulation. Chicago forward Bryan Bickell was still in the penalty box for his kneeing penalty on Blues center Vladimir Sobotka.

Chicago killed off the 46-second 5-on-3 and was close to doing the same to Seabrook's major, but Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo held the puck in and set up Tarasenko for a low shot from the top of the right circle that snuck past Crawford.

The Blues owned the overtime, outshooting Chicago 7-2 and dominating possession until Jackman scored.

"We're not going to cry about it," Crawford said. "We just have to work harder."


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