What it will take for Blackhawks to close out Oilers in Game 4

/ by Charlie Roumeliotis
Presented By Blackhawks Insider

The Blackhawks have been in this position before.

No, I'm not talking about the dynasty era days when they were one game away from closing out a postseason series. This is a different team and different circumstances.

I'm talking about knowing what it's like coming off an emotional win and responding the right way in the next one.

After stunning the No. 5-seeded Edmonton Oilers in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Qualifiers, the Blackhawks had a letdown performance in Game 2. They had a bounce-back effort in Game 3 thanks to some late-game heroics, putting themselves in position on Friday to win their first postseason series for the first time since the 2015 Stanley Cup Final.

And if they want to do that, the Blackhawks must learn from their approach in Game 2.

"They have that killer instinct when they're down a game, and now they're on the brink of elimination, so that was an important lesson for our team," Brandon Saad said. "We have to match that intensity going into [Friday], knowing their backs are against the wall and we've got to have that same mentality against them."

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Head coach Jeremy Colliton said after Game 1 that he expected the Oilers to come out desperate in Game 2 and they did. But the Blackhawks didn't match that intensity.

That can't be the case in Game 4.

"It’ll probably be their best game of the series, so we have to prepare for that," Colliton said. "Hopefully we've learned a lesson from our approach in Game 2. It’s not just going to happen. We have to be ready from the start, have the details, have a work ethic away from the puck. We need everyone going to have a good chance to win."

The game plan for the Blackhawks to win Game 4 is simple: stay out of the penalty box, capitalize on their power-play opportunities and keep the game at even strength as much as possible. It's easier said than done, but that's the formula to beating the Oilers.

"We know when your back's against the wall, it's a do-or-die situation," Saad said. "So for us, it's just having that same mentality, not looking at it like we have a lead in the series but — just like last game — putting in the hard work for 60 minutes, knowing you're going to have some success with doing the right things and sticking with it all game, and that's what happened last game. Just matching that intensity and knowing it's going to take a full 60 minutes of hard work."