While they battled back after surrendering an early goal Monday, the St. Louis Blues were shut down by Chicago goaltender Corey Crawford in a 2-0 loss to the Blackhawks in Game 3 of their first-round playoff series.
Crawford surrendered late goals in each of the first two games that forced overtime and led to Blues' victories in St. Louis.
He was on task back at home in the United Center, turning away all 34 shots he saw to post a shutout. Game 4 is set for 8:30 p.m. Wednesday in Chicago with the Blues leading the best-of-seven series 2-1.
Chicago scored the first goal for the first time in its playoff series against the Blues as Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews gave his team an early 1-0 lead.
Toews threw what seem to be a fairly harmless shot at Blues goalie Ryan Miller, and Miller failed to get his stick down far enough as the puck traveled between his pads and into the net.
That goal stood up the rest of the way thanks to Crawford and an inspired defensive effort by the Blackhawks. The Blues pulled Miller for an extra attacker with 58 seconds remaining, but the Blackhawks got an empty-net goal by Marcus Kruger with 19.2 seconds left to clinch the win.
The Blues sent 34 shots on net unsuccessfully, missed the shot on 12 others and had 34 shots blocked by the Blackhawks.
After the Toews goal at 4:10 of the first period, the Blues regained their composure and began putting pressure on the Blackhawks.
The Blues averted three Blackhawks power plays in the second period, including a late 5-on-3 for 37 seconds, to keep the deficit at 1-0 heading to the third period.
Miller robbed Chicago's Marian Hossa during the 5-on-3.
Chicago nearly increased its lead to 2-0 in the first period after Patrick Kane split defensemen Alex Pietrangelo and Jay Bouwmeester and was in alone on Miller.
Miller turned Kane away with a glove save to preserve the one-goal deficit.
The Blues had several high-quality scoring chances during two power-plays in the first period, but Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford responded with some big saves.
Late in the first period, he stopped a tough shot by Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk and also took the rebound away from Steve Ott before slashing Ott across the ankle with his goal stick.
Blues forward Alex Steen, playing center because of the injury absence of captain David Backes, was credited with four shots in the first period and six on the night.
Steen and Jay Bouwmeester combined for 11 of the Blues' 34 shots.
Blues forward Adam Cracknell had five of the Blues' 19 hits in the first period and six in the game. Ott led the Blues with eight, including a big check on Chicago defenseman Duncan Keith late in the third period.
Steen centered a line with T.J. Oshie and Ott on his wings.
Crawford made another big glove stop on Blues center Patrik Berglund during the second period.
The Blues were 0-for-3 on the power play in Game 3 and are 1-for-16 with the man advantage during the series.
They played without Backes, injured Saturday in Game 2 on a hard hit to his head by Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook.
Seabrook earned a three-game suspension for his actions while Backes is out with an undisclosed injury.
While Backes is a tough loss in any situation, he had been particularly effective defensively when working against Toews and Chicago's top line.
Berglund returned to the lineup for the first time since sustaining an upper-body injury in a late-season game against Dallas.
Veteran forward Brenden Morrow (foot injury) also returned for the Blues after missing Game 2.