The Blackhawks enjoyed their thrilling, triple-overtime Game 2 victory over the Anaheim Ducks about as long as they could: which wasn’t long at all.
They reveled some in the locker room right after that 3-2 triumph. Then reality set in and the fatigue took over after they played the longest game in franchise history.
But the exhaustion wasn’t the only reason the Blackhawks turned the page quickly. It’s just what they do this time of year because no matter the loss or victory, no matter the length of the game, they can’t afford to dwell on it long.
The Blackhawks return to the United Center for the first time since May 3 – yes, it’s been that long – on Thursday night, when they host the Ducks in Game 3 of the Western Conference Final. Whether or not this next game goes as long as the previous one, the competition level will likely be high. The Blackhawks handed the Ducks their first postseason home loss on Tuesday night, and Anaheim will be looking to return the favor.
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“I think both teams got a lot of respect for what the other team's capable of doing,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “There's a lot of skill, a lot of balance on their team. They [have] got four lines that can score, skate. We feel we got to battle it with our four lines as well. There’s a lot of depth on these teams. You’ve got to bring the importance of each shift.”
Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau said his players were angry following Game 2’s loss, and he’s fine with that emotion. The Ducks haven’t lost two in a row thus far this postseason and Boudreau said he expects a good response on Thursday night.
“We’ve done it all year. I would be more surprised if we weren’t able to rebound and play a really great game than if it went the other way around,” he said. “I’ve been with this group for a long time now. You can see it. They were, rightfully so, very angry last night. Not disappointed, but angry. That’s a good thing.”
Meanwhile, as much as the Blackhawks were physically drained in Game 2, they were also rejuvenated. They got that split on the road, which is never easy. It was also a reminder after Game 1, which the Blackhawks lost 4-1, that they still had more to give.
“I think considering the way we played, we know there's a lot more in the tank,” Jonathan Toews said. “I think we're excited to get back to home ice, to try to get them on their heels a little bit more, find the excitement, that energy we've had in our own building.”
The Blackhawks will be facing an angry Ducks team that’s looking to mar the Blackhawks’ unblemished postseason home record. They enjoyed their Game 2 victory, albeit briefly. There’s no time to; the next test is coming up fast.
“We're here. [There is] not a lot of time before it's time to go back to bed, get ready for another game tomorrow, no time to really sit around and enjoy a big win,” Toews said. “The best we can do is feed off of that positive energy it gave us in tomorrow night's game, try to continue that good feeling.”