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updated: 4/26/2014 9:03 PM

Resilient Hawks hoping to slam series door

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  • St. Louis Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo scores past Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford to tie the game in third period action during Game 5 of a Western Conference quarterfinal playoff game Friday, April 25, 2014, at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis.

      St. Louis Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo scores past Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford to tie the game in third period action during Game 5 of a Western Conference quarterfinal playoff game Friday, April 25, 2014, at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis.
    Associated Press

  • Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford dives back across the crease to try and stop a wide-open shot by St. Louis Blues right wing T.J. Oshie in third period action during Game 5 of a Western Conference quarterfinal playoff game   Friday, April 25, 2014, at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis.

      Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford dives back across the crease to try and stop a wide-open shot by St. Louis Blues right wing T.J. Oshie in third period action during Game 5 of a Western Conference quarterfinal playoff game Friday, April 25, 2014, at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis.
    Associated Press

 
 

If it's not already an instant classic, this Blackhawks-Blues series is darn close.

Four of the first five games going to overtime and a legitimate argument out there that either team could've won any of those first five games.

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"This series, every game, the unpredictably in the game and what's at stake from start to finish ... is pretty amazing," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said Sunday.

"There's so much drama in these games, you've got to admire both teams," added Blues coach Ken Hitchcock. "Neither team's giving each other much here and both teams have tremendous resolve.

"Unfortunately, one of them's got to go down early. We just don't want it to be us."

But on Sunday, at what surely will be a raucous United Center, the Blues very well could be that team if the Hawks, who dropped the first two games but scrapped their way back to take a 3-2 lead, can continue their roll by making it 4 straight wins and a series victory.

"I think we're a proud bunch and we find ways to overcome adversity and we've had ... just our last three series, down in all of them we've found a way to fight back," Quenneville said. "Our leadership and our competitiveness are the reasons why we are as competitive (as we are).

"Our leaders, they come to play and they want to find a way to be successful."

They'll be getting some reinforcement in that department today when defenseman Brent Seabrook, who sat out three games for his hit on David Backes, returns to the lineup.

"Seabs is one of the steadiest D-men in this league, and pretty underrated too," Niklas Hjalmarsson said. "You don't hear too much talk around him for the Norris Trophy and things like that, but I think Seabs is definitely one of the best players in this league and what he brings to our team every night is huge.

"Off the ice too, he's a huge part of this team. He's always pushing everybody -- one of those core players that has a lot to say in our locker room."

As does Hitchcock, whose Blues need to pull out all the stops if they don't want to remembered as the team that -- for the second consecutive year -- opened their first-round playoff series with a pair of wins before dropping their final four games.

"We have a chance to write our own legacy," Hitchcock said. "Everybody is probably writing, 'Here they go again. They're challenging the top teams, but can they get through the top teams?'

"Everybody is going to write that stuff. But we have a chance to write the message that you guys have to print, so it's in our control.

"I want to see us embrace this. Yeah, we're knocking on the door and we're knocking hard, but we've got to push through. We've got a real opportunity to push through the wall here. I want to see our players take advantage of this."

It won't be easy though, because when the Hawks have a chance to close out a series, they usually do.

Consider this factoid: under Quenneville, the Hawks are 10-2 when they have a chance to close out a series.

"It's tough to say exactly the reason why," Quenneville said of that stat. "We feel like we want to get better each and every game in the series.

"We've got some guys who like to rise to challenges in big games and big settings, and I think they've proven that with their history. I think they get excited in that situation."

Hjalmarsson certainly is.

"They've been great games to play and I just hope we can pull off one of our best games of the year tomorrow so we can finish the series off so we don't have to go to St. Louis," he said. "Just release the handbrake and go full force."

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