The Blackhawks and Anaheim Ducks unintentionally repeated their Game 2 pattern in Game 4: a multi-overtime game, a flight out within 10 hours of that game’s end and a quick prep for the next one.
“Just mentally, get ready,” Bryan Bickell said before he and the Blackhawks headed back to Anaheim for Game 5, which comes Monday night at the Honda Center. “We didn’t skate, won’t skate (Monday morning), so just prepare ourselves for that game. The first period’s going to be crucial, dictate the pace is what we want to do. Mentally, I think, is the biggest thing.”
The Blackhawks have won the triple- and double-overtime games in this series, the latter a 5-4 decision on Saturday that tied this Western Conference Final series at 2-2. One difference from Game 3 to Game 5: Don’t count on any lineup changes. Coach Joel Quenneville said changes are “not likely.” Defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk, who started skating again on Friday and could return to the postseason at some point, is out for Game 5. He did not make the trip to Anaheim.
Now the Blackhawks have to be ready for a pushback from the Ducks, who are 2-0 this postseason following an overtime loss.
“We're going to go out and look to have a good Game 5,” Brent Seabrook said. “I think ... Game 3 was it? It was a tight game. It could have gone either way. We were one post away from tying that and going into an overtime again.”
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Still, the Blackhawks have done well in this scenario: Under Quenneville, they are 16-0 in games after a series is tied 2-2 (8-0 on the road and 8-0 at home). Keeping up a stat like that isn’t easy, but the Blackhawks have a way of getting stronger as a series progresses.
“Absolutely it's a good team we're playing. They play hard. These games, they're long games, they're hard games, even if it goes 60,” Quenneville said of the Ducks. “At the same time we feel we have to get better in series and progress to go through it. One thing is, we find a way to get better each and every game. We know we needed our best game last night, and I thought we had a hell of a game last night. We're going to need a better game in Game 5 going into their building. That's the mindset.”
This series is as tight as most expected it to be: Three games have been decided by just one goal, two of those games needing overtimes. They’ve got the chance to steal another one in Anaheim, but that depends on how quickly they can reset after another long night’s work.
“We’ve got to come out with a good effort off the start,” Seabrook said. “I think our starts have been key. When we start well, we usually give ourselves a chance to have a good game and get a win. That's going to be tomorrow's theme, I'm sure: getting off to a good start and trying to do some good things in a hostile building in Anaheim.”