The St. Louis Blues were feeling confident heading into Game 4, hoping to come out with a victory and a chance to win their opening-round playoff series against the Blackhawks in front of a home crowd on Friday.
Throughout much of the second and third periods on Wednesday night, it looked like those plans were going to go their way.
But Bryan Bickell deflected a shot past netminder Ryan Miller to send the game into overtime, and it didn't take long before Patrick Kane fired in the game-winner off a pass from Ben Smith to tie up the series.
"We knew we were going to get a push," Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock said after his team's 4-3 loss. "Where the game was lost was when we took it over and were up 3-2 and missed those four chances. We could have been up 4- or 5-2, but we left it out there and got caught in our zone. Then in overtime, we had chances to shoot the puck three times in the zone and didn't put it on the net."
Like the three previous battles in the series, Wednesday's matchup was a game of inches. The Blackhawks and Blues shifted momentum throughout each period, but at the end it was the defending champions who came out on top.
Now Hitchcock hopes a good talking to with his team will help them regain that extra push.
"They've got the momentum now, we've got to take it back," Hitchcock said. "These have been two really hard-fought games here. This is a momentum builder for them, and we have to find a way to regroup and take it back from them. That's a big challenge for us and I think we're up to it, but we're going to have to have a little bit of a heart-to-heart and get back on our toes again. The way we played in the second and third period was really good, and that's what we have to get back to as much as we can."
Hitchcock said that moving forward, the Blues need to avoid playing on their heels like they did throughout the first period of Wednesday's game.
His players, however, didn't seemed too panicked following their performance. They were confident in their game — similarly to the way they were following their loss in Game 3 on Monday night — and feel they're not far from playing the type of game necessary to come out on top at the end of the seven-game series.
"I think we're right where we want to be," said forward Maxim Lapierre. "We won our two games at home, came here and played good hockey and have to focus and regroup and play good hockey in St. Louis again.
"There are no surprises, you're playing the Stanley Cup champions. Obviously you're going to have a tight battle, you're not just going to get the wins and go home. It's fun, you want to be a part of that. It's a tight series and it's physical, three overtimes, it's fun to be part of."