ANAHEIM, Calif. – The Blackhawks’ demeanor following their Game 1 loss vs. the Anaheim Ducks was as to be expected: certainly disappointed but not overly sullen.
“We expected them to be a good team,” Patrick Kane said. “I don’t think we came in here and thought it was going to be easy.”
No, it wasn’t going to be easy. And it’s not going to get any easier from here on out. But if there’s one thing the Blackhawks know it’s how to respond to tough situations, especially in the playoffs.
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The Blackhawks will look to even the Western Conference Final when they face the Ducks in Game 2 on Tuesday night. While this is the first time the Blackhawks have trailed in a best-of-seven series this season, they’ve dealt with this in the past – they were in a 0-2 series hole vs. St. Louis in last year’s first round before they won the next four games. They liked a lot of what they did in Game 1 but know they have to be better in Game 2 to get a split.
“It’s night and day between wins and losses, especially in the playoffs, but I think we know we can bring a lot more than we did yesterday,” Jonathan Toews said. “We started well, created chances, did a lot of good things, a lot of little things well in the early parts of the game yesterday and kind of trailed off and let them keep control as they got the lead. Maybe to a certain degree, we got that one out of the way. But I think we definitely have to bounce back.”
The Blackhawks know where they have to be better. The power play struggled in back-to-back opportunities in the third period on Sunday – coach Joel Quenneville said he could put Kane on both units, as he did earlier this season. They missed out on opportunities off Ducks turnovers, and couldn’t keep the Ducks from capitalizing on their mistakes.
And as good as Frederik Andersen was against them on Sunday – he stopped 32 of 33 shots – the Blackhawks said they have to make things tougher on the Ducks goaltender.
“He’s a big guy in there, he makes a lot of saves that he can see. On some empty nets he even made some big saves,” said Patrick Sharp, referring to Andersen’s stunning stick save on Kane’s first-period shot. “We can do a better job of battling, fighting our way to the front of their net. But we’ll give them credit for Game 1 for doing a good job of boxing us out and letting their goaltender see the puck. So getting to the net is key for us.”
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The Blackhawks have enough experience not to get rattled when they’re down in a game or in a series. The Ducks present challenges that the Nashville Predators and Minnesota Wild did not but adjusting to different styles are part of the postseason too. Going back home with a split is key for the Blackhawks, who, like the Ducks at the moment, are undefeated at home this postseason. They played a pretty good game on Sunday. They need a really good game on Tuesday.
“We have to have some urgency right here right now,” Toews said. “Try to put some pressure on them in their building and go home feeling good about ourselves.”