Hours before the puck was dropped for Game 3, Duncan Keith and Bryan Bickell were already playing defense.

The veterans stood in the dressing room and defended their reputations, but once the action got underway it was goaltender Corey Crawford who put on a dazzling defensive effort in a 2-0 victory over the Blues on Monday night at the United Center. The win by the Hawks cut the Blues' advantage in the best-of-seven series to 2-1 with Game 4 set for Wednesday night at the UC.

After two crushing defeats in overtime — games the Hawks led late in regulation — the defending Stanley Cup champions managed to hang on Monday and gain some momentum in the series.

Crawford had 34 saves to make Jonathan Toews' first-period goal and an empty-netter by Marcus Kruger stand up with his third career postseason shutout, drawing chants of "Corey, Corey" from the crowd of 22,112.

"(The Blues) came hard again and our 'D' played unreal," said Crawford, who outdueled Ryan Miller (23 saves). "They kept them to the outside, clearing rebounds, blocking shots (and) battling in the corners to get the puck out of our zone.

"That was a big win for us. We have to keep the same mentality. Just because we came here and got the first one at home doesn't mean it's going to be easy. We have to be prepared to work even harder and keep the same good feelings that we had in this game."

Both teams were without a top player as Blues captain David Backes missed the game with an upper-body injury and Brent Seabrook served the first of a three-game suspension for the Hawks. Despite plenty of posturing from both sides, the teams stuck to hockey and kept big hits clean and after-whistle skirmishes to a minimum.

Coach Joel Quenneville reunited Toews and Patrick Kane on the top line, and that sparked the Hawks' offense early as they opened the scoring for the first time in the series when the captain found the back of the net. Toews' shot from the top of the left circle somehow found its way through the pads of Miller.