ST. LOUIS – Kris Versteeg tossed and turned a little bit late Thursday night.
The Chicago Blackhawks forward was thinking about his potential game-winning goal that was stopped by St. Louis Blues forward Maxim Lapierre, who couldn’t have been in a better place for the Blues, or a worse one for the Blackhawks.
“That was a bit of a late bedtime because you do think about the what-ifs,” he said, adding he raised his hands out of incredulousness more than possible celebration immediately after he fired that shot. “You try to block them out, though. You can’t change the pass. You did everything you wanted to do.”
As a team, the Blackhawks were shaking off that loss much like Versteeg did that oh-so-close chance. They would’ve loved to win, they had their chances to win but they’ll put it behind them. Let’s face it: with Game 2 on Saturday afternoon, they don’t have time to dwell on it.
“That’s the nice thing with the playoffs: you can’t think about yesterday too much. You just have to move on and think about the next game,” Niklas Hjalmarsson said on Friday. “I thought we gave good effort last night; we were good enough to be able to win that game. We had a lot of chances. It went the way it went. It was a tough loss, but at the same time, we have a (2 p.m.) game tomorrow.”
As disappointed as the Blackhawks are, their postseason experience helps them get over things like this quickly. They’ve faced adversity before – please see Round 2 vs. the Detroit Red Wings last spring, when they were down 3-1 in the series. They also lost every Game 3 – i.e., every first road game – in the 2013 playoffs. They know the drill this time of year: let it go, get it together, get going again.
“We've lost all four first games in (opposing) buildings and seemed to recover. That's something we can build on,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “It's a long series. We expected a tough series against this team. There (aren’t) going to be any easy games, but it's a good example that, going forward, we've got to find a way to overcome our opponents.”
As much as the Blackhawks shake off Game 1, they know Game 2 is pivotal. They’re still looking for a split, still looking to go back to Chicago with momentum. Losses happen in the playoffs; the Blackhawks will try to make sure it doesn’t snowball.
“We know we’ve got the confidence in the group to come from behind in series like this,” Hjalmarsson said. “We still have a good opportunity to win (on Saturday). If we can get at least one game here, turn this series around, then it’s us to have the home advantage. If we win (Game 2), we’ll be more than fine."