The Blackhawks weren't able to do a whole lot at the start of Game 6 of their opening-round playoff series against the Nashville Predators, down by two goals just over eight minutes into game against a team that was fighting to stay above water.
But as Saturday's contest went on, the Predators weren't the only team playing a desperate game, and ultimately were unable to keep the Blackhawks from sending them packing.
"To go out against a team like that and win four games, especially that last one, you know it's the toughest one," Jonathan Toews said following his team's 4-3 win. "So that confidence and that excitement has to get us ready and excited."
The Blackhawks could let out a slight sigh of relief knowing they made it past Round 1, but in the upcoming days, they'll face another huge challenge as they take on either the Minnesota Wild or St. Louis Blues.
So while Game 6 wasn't a do-or-die situation for Chicago, the Blackhawks felt extra motivation and their own sense of desperation to close things out as quickly as possible in order to have a few days of rest before their upcoming series kicks off.
"It's important," Patrick Kane said when asked about how crucial an early series win is. "I think we're happy with winning here tonight. We knew we had a great opportunity in front of our home crowd to seize that moment and seize that opportunity. So it's a good thing we took advantage of it."
The Blackhawks also had the opportunity to end the Predators' series during Game 5 in Nashville after taking a 3-1 series lead following their big triple-overtime win in Game 4.
And after missing that opportunity once, they weren't ready to do it again. Especially in front of a home crowd.
"We learned from our mistakes in Game 5," Toews said. "It was going to take our best game of the series to push these guys out and I think we saw that in the last two periods."
After getting dominated through the first few minutes of Saturday's game, the Blackhawks managed to tie things up by the end of the first period before a goal from Duncan Keith solidified the win toward the end of the third period.
And like the other five games in the series, the Blackhawks and Predators looked pretty evenly matched a majority of the time. But it was Chicago that found ways to capitalize when it mattered most, and that's what pushed them through the first round in such a highly-competitive division.
"That says how tough our division and our conference is," head coach Joel Quenneville said. "You had Nashville all year, first in the league overall for a big stretch. Had some injury problems, but they're a good hockey team. We saw first-hand that they're deep. Hopefully we can get some excitement off of this win knowing we still have to be better moving forward."
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The Blackhawks were happy to get the series over with without having to board another flight to Nashville. Now they'll have some extra time off before facing Minnesota or St. Louis, who could be playing as late as Wednesday if their series goes a full seven games.
Now the Blackhawks will focus and regroup as they wait to find out who their next-round opponent is.
"We'll watch and see what happens," Kane said. "Either opponent is going to be tough for us because of how tough the Central Division has been, the style both teams play. So we'll see what happens and adjust our game the way Joel tells us to for our next opponent."