CHICAGO – The Chicago Blackhawks say their backs are against the wall in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final. Coach Joel Quenneville wants them to act like it.
“I think we should be exiting Game 2 and Game 3 with anger, a lot of emotions,” he said on Tuesday, with the Tampa Bay Lightning leading the series 2-1.
In Game 3, the Blackhawks dominated the first period, ceded the second period to the Lightning, scored a huge goal in the third and then gave up that lead just 13 seconds later before losing, 3-2.
The victory swung the series in the Lightning’s favor, including when it comes to history: When a team wins a road Game 3 in a 1-1 series in the Final, they’ve gone on to win the Cup 13 out of 13 times.
But the Blackhawks have a little history in their favor, too. Like in 2013, when the Boston Bruins had a 2-1 lead with Game 4 in Boston; the Blackhawks won three straight to capture the Cup. Like in this season’s Western Conference Final, when the Anaheim Ducks led the Blackhawks 2-1 after a Game 3 win at United Center. The Blackhawks won the last two games of the series, including a Game 7 on the road, to advance to face the Lightning.
“We've had some history of being in situations where we've been in the exact same spot,” said Quenneville.
So it all comes down to how the Blackhawks choose to meet this challenge, and they’ll turn to their veteran stars for guidance.
“It's not necessarily a situation you want to be in. The fact this group of players and this organization has been down that road a few times, has been able to persevere has been good for us. We're going to try to draw from that experience and play better games going forward,” said forward Patrick Sharp.
The Lightning pose a unique challenge because they’re an outstanding road team: 8-3 this postseason, with goalie Ben Bishop posting the second-best road save percentage in the postseason in 20 years.
“They don't have any weaknesses,” said captain Jonathan Toews. “We let them play their game a little bit too easily, it ends up hurting us. We can do the things we're doing, but keep on raising them to another level. Across the board, I think every guy knows there's more in store. If we bring that, we'll find ways and create the bounces we haven't gotten the last couple games.”
The Hawks’ star players could use some bounces. Toews, Sharp, Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa have all been held without a goal in the Stanley Cup Final thus far.
Can the Blackhawks win without goals from Toews and Kane?
“Sure,” said Toews.
“I think the two of us always feel that expectation, maybe that pressure to contribute offensively. We got a lot of guys who can do it. As long as we're playing smart two-way hockey, we're creating, bringing energy, eventually something's got to tip. I think that's the way we're looking at it right now.”
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