The Ducks' previous trip to the United Center resulted in their fifth straight win over the Blackhawks, prompting the visiting locker room to feel they "kinda know how to play" against the defending champions.
That had been the case in the past. Friday was a different story — well, at least throughout the first 50 minutes of the game.
"Obviously, it wasn't the start we wanted," Ducks forward Kyle Palmieri said following the Blackhawks' 4-2 victory. "The first 40 minutes, they put us on our heels and we're not used to that, so it was a tough game, but we showed some resiliency in the third."
The Blackhawks held a 3-0 lead with just over six minutes to play in the game. They controlled the ice up to that point, tallying nearly double the Ducks' number of shots on goal.
But in those last few minutes, the Ducks came to life as Ryan Getzlaf and Palmieri scored within 53 seconds of each other. It wasn't until Marian Hossa scored an empty-netter that fans inside the United Center could let out a sigh of relief.
"Every time we play these guys it's an emotional game, it's a hard-fought game," Palmieri said. "We knew that coming in, we knew what to expect. But they outplayed us in the first 40 minutes, especially after they got that (2-0 first-period) lead. We tried to claw our way back, but it was too little too late."
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Prior to Friday's game, the league-leading Ducks had won 18 of their last 19 games. They broke a franchise record just two days prior in a 9-1 victory over the Vancouver Canucks. They were quick at the start of those games and didn't give their opponents many opportunities to get on the board, just like their previous matchups against the Blackhawks.
This time that was not the case.
"Last few games we always outworked (the Blackhawks) and were able to not give them a whole lot," goaltender Jonas Hiller said. "I think they had a lot of pretty good scoring chances tonight and were able to score three goals, and you can't just expect to play one good period.
"I think definitely the first two periods weren't our best, we were outworked and that has been a staple for the last few games — that we've always been able to outwork the opponent. I don't think that was the case tonight."
The Blackhawks wanted to turn things around against the Ducks and close the gap in the Western Conference standings. Corey Crawford wanted his first win of 2014.
Hiller said the Ducks knew they were coming to Chicago with a target on their back, but when all was said and done, the Blackhawks "just worked a little harder."
"I guess if you're first in the standings everyone wants to chase you and win against you," Hiller said. "So nothing new, but we just weren't good enough."