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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Friday, April 25th (All times Eastern)

Chicago Blackhawks (2-2) at St. Louis Blues (2-2), 8 p.m.

(SportsNetwork.com) - In what is shaping up to be a classic best-of-seven battle between the Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues, both teams will fight for a series lead when the clubs meet for Friday's Game 5 clash at Scottrade Center.

The Blues won the first two games of the series on home ice, taking both contests despite trailing on the scoreboard heading into the final two minutes of regulation in Games 1 and 2. However, Chicago won a 2-0 decision when the series shifted to the Windy City for Monday's Game 4 and then evened the set at two games apiece with Wednesday's 4-3 overtime win at United Center.

It marked the third time in this entertaining Western Conference quarterfinal matchup that extra time was needed to determine a winner. Each of those OT battles ended in 4-3 scores, with St. Louis claiming the opener in triple- overtime and winning Game 2 on Barret Jackman's marker 5:50 into the extra session.

Patrick Kane's goal with 8:43 left in overtime lifted the Blackhawks to a series-tying victory on Wednesday. Kane also scored earlier in the contest for the defending Stanley Cup champions and he contributed an assist to help give Chicago a chance to take its first lead of the series in this evening's pivotal Game 5

"We kind of have the momentum now," said Kane, last spring's Conn Smythe winner. "We know it's going to be a tough game in Game 5 in their building. They're going to be fired up and that's always a tough place to play, pre- season, regular season or playoffs. So, we'll expect them to get better and we'll get better too."

Bryan Bickell came up with a big goal as well for Chicago, as his marker with 3:52 remaining in regulation tied the score at 3-3 and ended a sequence of three straight scores from the Blues that erased an early 2-0 deficit.

Andrew Shaw also lit the lamp in the win, while Corey Crawford backed up his 34-save shutout in Monday's Game 3 by turning aside 30 shots on Wednesday.

Vladimir Tarasenko scored twice for the Blues in a losing cause, with Maxim Lapierre accounting for the other St. Louis goal and Ryan Miller finishing with 30 saves.

"Oh, they've got the momentum now," St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock said. "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."

Counting the victories in Games 1 and 2, St. Louis has won the last five overall meetings against the Blackhawks in the Gateway City.

The Blues also have claimed four straight at home against Chicago in the postseason, with the Blackhawks' last playoff win in St. Louis coming on April 18, 2002. Chicago's win in that 2002 series came in Game 1 and the Blues won the next four meetings to send the Blackhawks to a first-round exit.

St. Louis has lost both of its games without captain David Backes in the lineup. Backes is still recovering from an upper-body injury caused by a hard check from Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook in Saturday's Game 2. Seabrook, of course, received a three-game suspension for the hit which will end following tonight's Game 5.

Backes, who had one assist in the first two games of this series, is questionable for Friday's tilt.

Game 6 of this series is scheduled for Sunday in Chicago. If needed, a decisive seventh meeting will be hosted by St. Louis on Tuesday.

04/25 10:46:36 ET