It's time for a bit of daytime hockey as the Blackhawks and Blues meet for Game 3 of their first-round playoff series Sunday at the United Center. The series is currently tied, 1-1, after the two teams split the opening pair of games at Scottrade Center in St. Louis.
Controversy reigned over Game 2 as the Hawks took advantage of a pair of video reviews to roll to a 3-2 victory and tie the series. Vladimir Tarasenko had a potential go-ahead goal in the third period wiped out by a very close -- but legitimate -- offside call, then Andrew Shaw followed up minutes later with the eventual game-winner.
Fans in St. Louis were not happy about the way the game played out, but if anyone really has a problem, it's probably with the definition of the offside rule as much as the coach's challenge. Never before have I seen so many people angry about referees getting a call correct.
That seemed to rattle the Blues a bit based on their postgame comments, which suggested that the officials were giving the Hawks an advantage as the defending champion. Coach Joel Quenneville disagreed with that assertion, and while the league is certainly favorable to Chicago in some areas -- Winter Classics, ahem -- it's odd to claim that refereeing is one of them on a play when the refs got it right.
Key Question: Who will get it going on offense?
The Blackhawks have to be feeling pretty good about their chances coming home with a 1-1 series. The team played well in the first two games and, after seeing the fortune go the Blues' way in Game 1, had it come back theirs in Game 2. Duncan Keith also quickly made his impact felt upon returning to the lineup.
However, Chicago still has just three goals in its two games against St. Louis. Two of those goals came in the final period, so the team opened this series with one score in five-plus periods. That's okay in a defensive-minded series that won't get decided by a bunch of 6-5 games, but the Hawks will need to finish more of their chances to put away this series.
The first line of Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa and Andrew Ladd has shot a combined 0-of-24 in the series, which almost certainly won't last. The line has done a good job getting chances on goal in the first two games and just needs to capitalize. Patrick Kane has been in a similar position with eight shots on goal and no scores. While this goes both ways -- Shaw and Keith have two goals on a combined six shots -- the Hawks are shooting 3-of-64 (4.7 percent) so far in this series.
During the regular season, the Hawks shot 9.4 percent, which is exactly double their current playoff percentage. If they shot that over the first two games, they'd have six goals and, most likely, a 2-0 advantage. As long as they keep playing the way they have over the first two games, sprinkle in a little home ice advantage and see that shooting percentage regress upwards a bit, things indeed look good.
How to watch Hawks vs. Blues Game 3
When: 2 p.m. CT
Where: United Center, Chicago
TV: NBC (U.S.) | Sportsnet, TVA Sports (Canada)
Stream: NBC Sports Live Extra