The Chicago Blackhawks returned home late Tuesday night, frustrated, and perhaps a little humbled, by their Game 3 loss to the Minnesota Wild.
“Winning six games in a row, maybe we were a little overconfident in ourselves and Minnesota did a good job of making it a series last night,” Patrick Kane said on Wednesday. “If anything, it’s a wake up call for us.”
The Blackhawks aren’t reeling after that loss, just their first in their last seven postseason games. And recent history shows they do just fine down series stretch runs: the Blackhawks are 13-1 after Game 3 in their last five postseason series.
Still, the Blackhawks got a reminder that the Wild aren’t going away quietly. Now they need to respond on Friday, when the Wild host them in Game 4 of their best-of-seven series, which the Blackhawks still lead 2-1. The Blackhawks were fine in their Game 1 victory over the Wild, better in their Game 2 decision. Game 3, when they wanted to push the pace more and play their best game, they fell short.
So they’re looking to bring that full game, the one they still haven’t played in this series, on Friday.
“The urgency is there now. We’ve seen how they can play and how far they battled for winning games. That’s something that we have to have too and it was a little bit of a wake-up call, but not really,” Johnny Oduya said. “I think we knew that this is the way they play. We saw it in last series where I think for a lot of parts, they out-battled Colorado a lot. Yeah, we have to play better, that’s just the bottom line.”
The Blackhawks are well versed in how the Wild play, how it likes to stifle an opponent and force them to work that much harder to get opportunities. On Tuesday, the Blackhawks had a few choice chances, but not many. Their puck possession game was off. Their net presence was absent. The Blackhawks know there’s a fine line between pushing the pace and forcing something, the latter of which can lead to mistakes and rushes the other way. They need to find the right side of that line.
“We went in there with a mindset to ‘hey, let’s play tight, let’s make sure we don’t get the crowd into it’ and it took them 42 minutes and change to get excited,” coach Joel Quenneville said of the Wild, who got the game-winner about two minutes into the third period. “We did what we wanted to do but we didn’t get enough offense. It’s going to be tight and you have to willing to play a tight game and try to find a way through that.”
The Blackhawks know the game the Wild plays. They know they have to be patient, yet persistent. They need to play at top level, which hasn’t happened yet this series. Friday is as good a time as any.
“We still feel that we haven't played our best game in the series,” Kane said. “Hopefully it'll come next game."