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Blues 'in a great spot' going into Game 3

St. Louis recovers after frustrating loss to Blackhawks that tied series

by Louie Korac / Correspondent

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- If there's one message that resonated with the St. Louis Blues on Saturday after two video review calls didn't go their way in Game 2 of the Western Conference First Round series against the Chicago Blackhawks, it's that they're over it and ready to move on.

After an overturned goal that would have given the Blues a third-period lead, and then one upheld when the Blackhawks took a late lead in an eventual 3-2 win Friday, the Blues said they feel they're equipped to focus on the task at hand with the best-of-7 series tied 1-1.

Game 3 is at United Center on Sunday (3 p.m. ET; NBC, SN, TVA Sports).

"Yeah, yeah, we're in a great spot," left wing Scottie Upshall said Saturday following a limited optional skate. "I thought we played great last night. It was a very emotional game. We knew they were going to come out and play hard. Tough defeat for them in Game 1 (a 1-0 St. Louis overtime win Wednesday).

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"Both teams are playing hard. I think most of us are on top of our game and playing well. Both goaltenders (Brian Elliott of St. Louis, Corey Crawford of Chicago) are having a heck of a series. The games are decided by little plays and one goal here or there. They're fun to be part of. We're expecting Game 3 to pick up that pace even more."

Which is precisely why the Blues don't want to dwell on an apparent goal by Vladimir Tarasenko at 12:14 of the third period, overturned by a successful coach's challenge that determined Jori Lehtera was offside. Or Andrew Shaw's eventual go-ahead goal for Chicago at 15:41, which was upheld after a coach's challenge for goalie interference.

"I think everyone's been there before. It's not a young team here," Blues center Paul Stastny said. "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 kind of use that as an excuse. It's early in the series. It's frustrating, yeah, but I think once we woke up this morning, we already forgot about it and we're focused on tomorrow."

Blues coach Ken Hitchcock got a chuckle out of it when he was asked if challenges are good for the game in moments when it's not an obvious call.

"I don't know. I know we just had two go the wrong way. We're 0-2 back the other way; I don't know," Hitchcock said. "That's probably for summertime conversation.

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"All I know is that we've got a series that's 1-1 … I think [Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville] put it best: It's been amazing hockey the first two games. It's probably going to stay at the same temperature or probably going to go up, even.

"We've got to be ready for it. It's us being able to handle the emotional ups and downs. Yesterday was about as dramatic as you could get and we're going to have to come back on a very short rest here, so this is short for both teams to be able to handle it and amp it up again for tomorrow, because I don't see either team leaving anywhere right now."

Hitchcock said the Blues were better in Game 2 than they were in Game 1, and if St. Louis can bring some of the elements it had on Friday with them to Chicago, Hitchcock likes their chances of winning a game, perhaps two.

"We had more sustained pressure in the zone, which is a good sign," Hitchcock said. "I just thought our competitive level went up and our execution went up with it, and it's going to have to continue to go up even higher. Hopefully we're one of the teams that's improving as the series goes on and not leveling out, because it's the little bit that's going to make a difference for one of these teams because it's at a very high, high level right now, and probably not going to change."

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