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Tarasenko powers Blues to Game 4 victory

Forward scores two goals, has assist to help St. Louis grab 3-1 series lead on Chicago

by Brian Hedger / NHL.com Correspondent

CHICAGO -- Vladimir Tarasenko and the St. Louis Blues are on the verge of ending the Chicago Blackhawks' championship defense in the Western Conference First Round.

Tarasenko scored twice Tuesday to help the Blues defeat the Blackhawks 4-3 in Game 4 at United Center and take a 3-1 lead in the best-of-7 series.

"It felt good," said Tarasenko, who has 13 goals in 17 career games in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. "We know this feels good, especially in this building. We know they come back from this situation a lot of times, and we need to forget about this game tomorrow and try to prepare for the next one."

Jaden Schwartz and Alexander Steen scored goals to break a 2-2 tie in the third period for the Blues, who can end the series in Game 5 at Scottrade Center on Thursday (9:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports, CSN-CH, FS-MW).

St. Louis goalie Brian Elliott made 39 saves, and Schwartz, Steen and Tarasenko each had an assist.

Duncan Keith scored two goals, Andrew Shaw had a goal and assist, and Corey Crawford made 16 saves for Chicago.

Video: STL@CHI, Gm4: Tarasenko sparks Blues with two goals

The Blackhawks have not trailed 3-1 in a series since the 2014 Western Conference Final, which they lost in overtime of Game 7 against the Los Angeles Kings. They got a split of the first two games in St. Louis before losing consecutive games on home ice.

"We've got to regroup tomorrow, go to St. Louis, get excited," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. "No pressure. Go try to win one game and come back here for Game 6. That's got to be the mindset."

Each team had an unexpected lineup change prior to the game.

Blues defenseman Robert Bortuzzo played for the first time in the series after Carl Gunnarsson was scratched with an upper-body injury.

After skating their usual forward combinations in warmups, the Blackhawks moved Shaw from the fourth line to right wing on the top line to begin the game, swapping spots with Marian Hossa.

Video: STL@CHI, Gm4: Schwartz finds puck, pots go-ahead goal

Tarasenko gave the Blues a 1-0 lead at 14:02 of the first period, a little more than seven minutes after an apparent Chicago goal was waved off on the ice and the call upheld by video review.

Standing in the right circle, Tarasenko took a feed from Jori Lehtera and snapped a shot past Crawford, who was screened by Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook.

Things heated up in the second, when Keith and Shaw scored to give the Blackhawks a 2-1 lead, and Tarasenko tied it late with his second goal of the night and third of the series.

Prior to Keith's power-play goal at 13:09, tempers flared after a confrontation between Crawford and Blues rookie forward Robby Fabbri, who was called for goaltender interference. Chicago center Jonathan Toews bumped Fabbri into Crawford during a rush, and Crawford went after Fabbri in the corner.

Video: STL@CHI, Gm4: Shaw deflects Hossa's shot into twine

A combined five penalties were handed out after a scrum, and the Blackhawks were awarded the power play that led to Keith's goal.

Chicago was unable to increase its lead, though, and Tarasenko stole the momentum back, tying it at 17:31 on a power play to erase the Blackhawks' second 2-1 lead in as many games.

"We haven't had that great response when tough stuff happens (in the past). But it doesn't matter where it came from, it's here," Blues captain David Backes said. "We love what's on the bench. They got a call or score a goal, and we're right back on it next shift to turn the tide back in our favor."

In the third, Schwartz scored on a power play at 1:36 to give St. Louis a 3-2 lead, with Keith in the penalty box for holding, and Steen made it a two-goal lead at 4:46.

Video: STL@CHI, Gm4: Steen steals, snipes insurance goal

Keith pulled the Blackhawks within a goal at 14:40, after Tarasenko accidentally deflected the puck in the slot, to set up a dramatic finish. Chicago put some heat on Elliott down the stretch, pushing for the equalizer, but the Blues goalie was up to the task.

The Blackhawks felt they had seized control after the skirmish between Crawford and Fabbri, but everything unraveled for them after Keith's goal. After going 8-for-8 on the penalty kill in the first two games, Chicago allowed four goals while shorthanded in Games 3 and 4.

"I think the game was right there," Keith said. "It just comes down to little plays. I can't take that penalty, because obviously their power play's been scoring a lot. We've got to figure out a way to keep the puck out of our net when we're on the penalty kill.

Shaw didn't do the Blackhawks any favors at 17:56 of the third when he was called for interference.

Video: Tarasenko's three-point night leads Blues in Game 4

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