NHL Playoffs: Blues Push Blackhawks to Brink of Elimination

CHICAGO -- Vladimir Tarasenko scored on a pair of impressive wrist shots, Brian Elliott made 39 saves and the St. Louis Blues beat the Chicago Blackhawks 4-3 on Tuesday night to open a commanding 3-1 lead in their first-round playoff series.

Jaden Schwartz scored a tiebreaking power-play goal in the third period for the second straight game as St. Louis moved to the brink of its first appearance in the Western Conference semifinals since 2012. The Blues were eliminated in the opening round in each of the past three years.

Game 5 is Thursday night in St. Louis.

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Duncan Keith had two goals for Chicago, which dropped consecutive home playoff games for the first time since 2012.

Andrew Shaw had a goal and two assists, and Corey Crawford finished with 16 saves after getting into a fight with Blues rookie Robby Fabbri during a wild second period (see full recap).

Penguins retake series lead over Rangers
NEW YORK -- Matt Cullen beat Henrik Lundqvist on a semi-breakaway after beating two defensemen early in the third period and the Pittsburgh Penguins spoiled the return of Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh with a 3-1 win in Game 3 of their first-round series on Tuesday night.

Sidney Crosby also scored and Matt Murray made 16 saves in his return to action in helping the Penguins take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-7 series.

Game 4 is Thursday night in New York. The Rangers have lost four consecutive playoff games at Madison Square Garden going back to last season's Eastern Conference final against Tampa Bay.

Kris Letang iced the game with an empty-net goal.

Rick Nash scored for the Rangers, who played without an injured McDonagh (upper body, hand) in the first two games in Pittsburgh. Lundqvist made 28 saves, giving up a power-play goal to Crosby and a one-on-one chance to Cullen (see full recap).

Lightning push Red Wings to brink of elimination
DETROIT -- Ondrej Palat scored with 2:59 left in the third period, lifting the Tampa Bay Lightning to a 3-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday night and a 3-1 lead in the first-round series.

Game 5 is Thursday night at Tampa Bay.

Ben Bishop stopped 26 shots for the Lightning and Petr Mrazek made 30 saves for the Red Wings.

Palat was in a perfect position right in front of the net to make the most of Jonathan Drouin's pass on the game-winning goal. Drouin had three assists.

Nikita Kucherov had power-play goals in the first and second period to give Tampa Bay a 2-0 lead late in the second, but Detroit's Darren Helm and Gustav Nyquist scored late in the period to tie the game (see full recap).

Ducks bounce back, blank Predators
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Frederik Andersen made 27 saves, and the Anaheim Ducks shut out the Nashville Predators 3-0 Tuesday night to pull within 2-1 in their first-round playoff series.

The Ducks have not lost three straight to open a postseason series since the 2006 Western Conference finals, and they didn't come close to dropping a third straight this year.

Andersen, who started in net after John Gibson took the first two losses in Anaheim, posted his second postseason shutout despite taking Shea Weber's slap shot off his head.

Chris Stewart had a goal and an assist, and Jamie McGinn and Rickard Rakell each scored their first goals of the series.

Game 4 is Thursday night in Nashville.

The Predators returned home with their first 2-0 lead in the postseason. The Predators lost center Craig Smith to a lower-body injury after he played only 65 seconds over two shifts, leaving coach Peter Laviolette mixing up his lines (see full recap).

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