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Blues must refocus as series shifts back to St. Louis

by Louie Korac

CHICAGO -- They came back from a two-goal deficit in a hostile environment. It was a chance for the St. Louis Blues to grab the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks by the throat and take a 3-1 lead in this Western Conference First Round series.

But the Blues saw their lead evaporate with 3:52 remaining on a Bryan Bickell goal before Patrick Kane sealed Chicago's 4-3 overtime victory in Game 4 Wednesday night.

Chicago's rally turned this Stanley Cup Playoff series into a best-of-3, starting with Game 5 on Friday at Scottrade Center (8 p.m. ET, CBC, RDS2, NBCSN, CSN-CH, FS-MW).

The Blues, down 2-0 late in the second period, got two goals in a 1:05 span from Vladimir Tarasenko and Maxim Lapierre to stun the Blackhawks and 22,123 on hand at United Center.

Tarasenko's second goal of the game and NHL-leading fourth of the playoffs gave the Blues a 3-2 lead with 7:34 left. It was their first lead in two games in Chicago.

It lasted less than four minutes.

"Where the game was lost was when we took it over and were up 3-2 and we missed those four chances," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "We could have been up 4- or 5-2. We left it out there, got caught in our zone and then on the overtime goal, we had chances to shoot the puck three times in the zone and didn't put it on the net. Wanted to stick-handle one more time."

When Lapierre scored with 3.1 seconds left in the second period, the Blues felt a big push was in their arsenal and thought they'd grab the lead.

"I think we knew we were," Hitchcock said. "And then to score the third goal and really, their tying goal was the only chance they had. To have all those chances after that was something we needed. It's just unfortunate. I know kind of know how [Blackhawks coach] Joel [Quenneville] feels. Tit for tat."

Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, who was on the ice when Kane scored the game-winner 11:17 into overtime, said the Blues were in a good position to win this game.

"It's a lesson we have to learn. It's playoffs," Shattenkirk said. "We're going to get a team's best push when you go up by a goal in the third period. Tough one to give up, but we're going to be in that position again here. We have to learn from it and play better next time."

If it wasn't a reminder to the Blues after Game 3 that this first-round series is playing out exactly like the one in which they lost to the Los Angeles Kings last season, the final score in Game 4 (the same as Game 4 against the Kings), should be a stark reminder.

The Blues lost 3-2 on home ice in Game 5 (the only home loss for either team in the series), then lost Game 6 in Los Angeles.

"We knew it was going to be a tough battle and I think we're right where we want to be," Lapierre said. "We won our two games at home, came here and played good hockey, and now we've got to focus, regroup and play good in St. Louis again."

But before they do that, Hitchcock and his coaching staff will have a good talk with the players.

"I think we're up to it, but we're going to have a little bit of a heart-to-heart, get back on our toes again," Hitchcock said. "The way we played in the second and third period was really good, and that's what we've got to get back to as much as we can.

"They got the momentum now. 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."

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