Hawks fall to Blues 4-3, on the brink with game 5 in St.Louis Thursday

Image result for st.louis blues logoImage result for 2016 stanley cup playoffs logo

Vladimir Tarasenko scored on a pair of impressive wrist shots, Brian Elliott made 39 saves and the St. Louis Blues beat the Blackhawks 4-3 on Tuesday night to open a commanding 3-1 lead in their first-round playoff series.Jaden Schwartz scored a tiebreaking power-play goal in the third period for the second straight game as St. Louis moved to the brink of its first appearance in the Western Conference semifinals since 2012. The Blues were eliminated in the opening round in each of the past three years.Game 5 is Thursday night in St. Louis.Duncan Keith had two goals for the Blackhawks, who dropped consecutive home playoff games for the first time since 2012.Andrew Shaw had a goal and two assists, and Corey Crawford finished with 16 saves after getting into a fight with Blues rookie Robby Fabbri during a wild second period.With Keith in the box for holding Alexander Steen, Schwartz intercepted a clearing attempt by Blackhawks defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk and beat Crawford low on his stick side at 1:36. Schwartz also had the game-winning goal in St. Louis’ 3-2 victory in Game 3 on Sunday.Steen then picked off a passing attempt by van Riemsdyk and went in all alone on Crawford for his first goal of the series at 4:46, stunning the sellout crowd of 22,212.A fortunate bounce for Keith off Tarasenko’s stick and over Elliott gave the Blackhawks some hope, but Elliott shut the door from there. He jumped on a loose puck during a Hawk rush with 4:10 remaining, and Shaw was penalized for interference with 2:04 left.Before Schwartz and Steen broke through, it was the Tarasenko show once again for St. Louis. The dynamic winger has three goals and two assists in the series and 13 goals in 17 career playoff games.The Blackhawks had a 2-1 lead and momentum before Andrew Ladd was whistled for interference at 17:09 of the second. Just 22 seconds later, Tarasenko whistled a shot under Crawford’s glove for the tying score.Tarasenko’s goal capped a frenetic second period that included a fight between Crawford and Fabbri after the forward was pushed into the goaltender on a rush to the net. Crawford skated into the corner and shoved Fabbri before the two wrestled on the ice.The crowd responded with chants of ”Co-rey! Co-rey!” and the resulting fracas between the teams somehow generated a power play for the Blackhawks. Fabbri (interference), Alex Pietrangelo (roughing) and Kevin Shattenkirk (roughing) were sent off for St. Louis, and Crawford (roughing) and Ladd (roughing) were penalized for the Hawks.There was another big fight between the teams right after the final horn mand resulted in 6 Hawks and 5 Blues getting Game Misconducts. During the power play after the Crawford-Fabbri dispute, Keith scored on a rebound to give the defending Stanley Cup champions a 2-1 lead at 13:09. The defenseman has three goals in the series after winning the Conn Smythe Trophy for playoff MVP a year ago.The Hawks got off to a fast start, but St. Louis kept most of the action away from Elliott in the first period. The Blues also caught a break when Artem Anisimov‘s shot stopped right on the goal line and Elliott knocked it out of the way before the Blackhawks could get to it.St. Louis managed just five shots on goal in the first, but one of them was a laser from Tarasenko that made it 1-0 at 14:02. Jori Lehtera made a nice pass from behind the net to set up the play.

NOTES—Erik Gustafsson returned to the lineup after he was scratched in the previous two games. F Andrew Desjardins also played after he was inactive for Game 3. … Steen had an empty-net goal in the final minute disallowed by an offside call.