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Blues aim for 3-0 lead over defending champion Blackhawks

(SportsNetwork.com) - The St. Louis Blues will try to put the defending Stanley Cup champions on the ropes when they visit the Chicago Blackhawks for Game 3 of the Western Conference quarterfinals on Monday.

St. Louis has jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series thanks to a pair of victories on home ice. Both games have gone beyond regulation, with the Blues beating Chicago 4-3 in triple overtime on Thursday before taking Saturday's OT battle by the same score.

The Blackhawks won their second Stanley Cup title in four years in 2013, but the reigning champs need to turn things around on home ice in Games 3 and 4 or they could face an early exit from this spring's postseason. Chicago did lose in the opening round in consecutive seasons after winning the Cup in 2010.

Chicago had an excellent opportunity to tie the series on Saturday, as the Blackhawks overcame an early 2-0 deficit in Game 2 to grab a 3-2 edge in the third period. However, Vladimir Tarasenko's power-play goal tied the game with just 6.4 seconds remaining in regulation and Barret Jackman scored 5:50 into OT to hand St. Louis a 2-0 lead in the series.

The Blues now have a commanding hold on the best-of-seven series heading into Monday's Game 3, though Blues goaltender Ryan Miller said he knows it's been a lot closer than that.

"The way these games have gone, you have to respect the fact that Chicago was a shot away in both of these games, too," said Miller. "That's the weird part about hockey."

Chicago snapped a lengthy shutout streak by Miller to get back in Saturday's game. But after three Chicago Blackhawks defensemen scored three straight goals against Miller, one of them took a series-changing penalty that the Blues exploited for the comeback victory.

Brent Seabrook's charging major due to a check against Blues center David Backes led to Tarasenko's tying goal in the closing seconds of the third period.

Miller's shutout streak of 119 minutes and 27 seconds since allowing three goals on seven shots in the first period of Game 1 was snapped when Duncan Keith scored with 2:35 left in the second period to get the Blackhawks on the board. Seabrook and Michal Rozsival then beat Miller 1:45 apart in the third period to give the Blackhawks the 3-2 lead, but Chicago was later done in by Seabrook's game misconduct with 4:51 left in regulation.

Skating near full speed, Seabrook checked Backes in the face with his right shoulder, sending him head-first into the corner boards and sparking a scrum between the teams as Backes tried to get back on his feet. The St. Louis captain left the game after the hit and did not return.

The fallout from the hit continues into Monday's game, as Backes' status for Game 3 is up in the air. Seabrook, meanwhile, was suspended three games for the illegal check and defenseman Nick Leddy expects to enter Chicago's lineup in his absence.

Initially it appeared Chicago may survive Seabrook's penalty and win Game 2. The Blackhawks killed off an initial 46-second 5-on-3 and were seconds from escaping with the win before Tarasenko beat Corey Crawford to the near side with a long shot from above the right circle.

"You're right there -- six seconds away," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "The other game was tough losing it with a buck and change (left) but today was brutal."

The Blues converted only one of their nine power-play opportunities in the game, but they made that one goal count.

After the break, Jackman's winner from the left boards squirted in between Crawford's legs with Max Lapierre creating a screen in front.

Chris Porter and Kevin Shattenkirk scored first-period goals to give the Blues the early lead. Miller ended with 25 saves.

"The way these games have gone, you have to respect the fact that Chicago was a shot away in both of these games, too," said Miller. "That's the weird part about hockey."

Crawford stopped 27 shots in the loss for the Blackhawks, who have received five of their six goals in the series from defensemen.

Chicago hopes to regroup at the United Center, where it posted an impressive 27-7-7 record this season. That included a 2-0-1 record against the Blues during the five-game season series.

The Blackhawks, of course, are no stranger to mounting postseason comebacks. Chicago trailed Boston 2-1 in the Cup Finals a year ago before winning three straight to take the series and also overcame a 3-1 deficit to eliminate Detroit in the 2013 Western Conference semifinals.

Game 4 of this series is scheduled for Wednesday at the United Center.

In addition to Backes, the Blues also could be without forwards Patrik Berglund (sprained shoulder) and Brenden Morrow (bruised foot) on Monday. Berglund has yet to play in this series and expects to be out again in Game 3, while Morrow sat out Game 2 and is questionable for this evening's test.

04/21 10:58:43 ET