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Blues hope to stave off elimination against Blackhawks
(SportsNetwork.com) - The St. Louis Blues once held a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference quarterfinals, but on Sunday afternoon in Chicago they'll try to stave off elimination against the relentless Blackhawks.
This battle between the second and third-place teams in the Central Division has been extremely close, with four of the five games so far going to overtime. Chicago, however, has won three straight and can eliminate the Blues in this afternoon's Game 6 battle at United Center.
However, the Blues, who finished four points ahead of the Blackhawks in the regular-season standings, will get to host Game 7 on Tuesday if they can pick up the road victory on Sunday.
Chicago became the first road team to win a game in this series when it posted a 3-2 OT victory in Friday's meeting at Scottrade Center. The defending Stanley Cup champions earned a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven set after captain Jonathan Toews scored on a breakaway at 7:36 of the extra session.
Toews skated down the middle alone in on St. Louis goaltender Ryan Miller, pulled the puck to the backhand and slipped it inside the right post and past Miller's left pad.
Corey Crawford made 27 saves for Chicago.
"We know it's not over. We're excited to have the opportunity at home to close it out, but we're gonna need our best game of the year," said Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith.
Miller stopped 27 shots in the loss, but couldn't prevent his team from getting pushed to the brink of elimination.
"It seems against a team that's got this type of finish, you make a big error, you pay for it," said Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock.
St. Louis lost despite getting its captain back for Game 5, as David Backes returned after missing the previous two games with an upper-body injury. The forward was injured late in Game 2 after absorbing a vicious check from Brent Seabrook.
Seabrook earned a three-game suspension for the hit, but that punishment ended with Friday's contest and the defenseman will be in the lineup for Game 6.
Chicago hopes to use its recent home dominance of the Blues to end this series on Sunday. The Blackhawks, who were 27-7-7 as the host during the regular season, claimed Game 3 on home ice by a 2-0 score and then notched a 4-3 overtime victory in Wednesday's Game 4.
Including the recent playoff meetings, Chicago has won four straight and 12 of its last 14 home encounters with the Blues.
St. Louis is trying to avoid its second straight first-round playoff exit. The Blues were knocked out in six games by Los Angeles in 2013 despite also holding a 2-0 lead in that quarterfinal series.
04/27 09:17:36 ET
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