Mar 19, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews (19) moves the puck against St. Louis Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo (27) during the first period at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

NHL Playoffs 2014: St. Louis at Chicago, Blackhawks, Corey Crawford shutout Blues, 2-0

Corey Crawford shuts out the St. Louis Blues as Jonathan Toews and the Chicago Blackhawks win 2-0 and cut the St. Louis lead in the series to 2-1.

The Blackhawks needed a strong start after losing the first two games in their series against the Blues in overtime after blowing two late third period leads. With the series shifting to Chicago, Toews made sure the Blackhawks did not fall behind for the third game as his goal at the 4:10 mark was all the offense the team would need tonight.

After two crushing defeats and the suspension of defenseman Brent Seabrook, the defending Stanley Cup champions were on the ropes, but Toews scored his first goal of the postseason and dominated the faceoff circle, winning 19 of 24 faceoffs, but Crawford was the star for the Blackhawks.

Crawford turned aside all 34 shots he faced from the Blues to pick up his third career playoff shutout and rebound after blowing leads with 1:45 and 6.4 seconds left in regulation in Games 1 and 2, respectively.

The Blackhawks penalty kill came up large tonight, especially Michal Handzus, Marcus Kruger and Brandon Saad who stifled the Blues all night long as they came up on all three of their power plays tonight in front of a raucous United Center crowd that was as loud as its been all season long.

That trio would add the second goal of the game on the empty net with 20 seconds remaining to put the game on ice and get the Blackhawks right back in this series.

Handzus was the No. 3 star, Toews the No. 2 star and of course Crawford was the No. 1 star with 34 saves in the shutout who was helped out by 24 blocked shots by his teammates in front of him.

St. Louis played without David Backes who was the recipient of Seabrook’s hit that resulted in the three-game suspension, but welcomed back Patrik Berglund to the lineup, but there was a noticeable difference in the Blues top lines tonight without the presence of Backes who is so vital to everything they do.

In his postgame conference Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock said they hope to get Backes back in the next two or three games.

Ryan Miller and the Blues penalty kill did a very good job again shutting down the Blackhawks power play as they were successful killing off all four opportunities, including a 5-on-3 in the second period. However, that was the only silver lining for St. Louis tonight.

Game 4 is Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. CT from the United Center in Chicago, Ill.

Tags: Chicago Blackhawks Corey Crawford Jonathan Toews NHL NHL Playoffs 2014 St. Louis Blues

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