Blackhawks

Ducks learning how to win right way from previous playoff exits

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Ducks learning how to win right way from previous playoff exits

Sometimes, you have to taste failure before you know what it takes to succeed.

The Anaheim Ducks are walking proof of that.

A year ago, the Ducks set a franchise record for most wins (54) and points (116) in the regular season — both of which led the Western Conference — and entered the postseason as one of the favorites.

[MORE: Ducks overcome fatigue, regroup to regain home ice advantage]

But when they advanced to the second round of playoffs and took a 3-2 series lead on their arch-rival Los Angeles Kings, the Ducks failed to shut the door twice, leading to a heartbreaking Game 7 loss to the eventual Stanley Cup champions.

Oddly enough, the Ducks rolling through their opponents during the season may not have been the best thing for a team trying to figure out how to win the right way. Their second consecutive early exit opened their eyes more than anything.

“I’ve always believed you learn a lot from losing, almost more than you do winning,” Anaheim captain Ryan Getzlaf said after Friday's practice. “If you win all the time, you don’t really understand what exactly you’re doing. You just do it.

[RELATED: Ducks 'outstanding' PK proves to be X-Factor in Game 3 win]

"When you have those times when you go to Game 7 and you see the difference between what they did last year and what we did in that game, you learn a lot about yourselves and what you need to do, how minor the changes are that make the big difference.”

Because of it, the Ducks are two games away from their first Stanley Cup Final appearance since 2007.

It's the little things that go a long way, and it was evident when they responded to adversity yet again by stealing Game 3 in Chicago on Thursday night after the Blackhawks did the same thing in Anaheim's building two days earlier.

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“It’s more of a mindset that you figure out that a little play matters, or that little chip matters,” Getzlaf said. “Taking the hit to make a play. Those little things like getting the puck deep so you can make a line change.

"Those things are very minor when you look at them individually, but on the scale of a game, when you’re talking about not making mistakes in Game 7, those are part of them.”

Andrew Shaw trying to find balance between toeing the line and not crossing it for Blackhawks

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USA Today

Andrew Shaw trying to find balance between toeing the line and not crossing it for Blackhawks

The Blackhawks brought Andrew Shaw back to Chicago because they lacked some bite to their game. He's already meeting expectations in the physicality department, leading the team with 23 hits.

But the other part of his game the Blackhawks have to live with is the amount of penalties he takes. Through six games this season, Shaw has taken at least one penalty in five of them and is tied for third among all NHL skaters with six minors. The only two skaters above him are guys who have played in two and four more games, respectively.

Because he plays on the edge, Shaw will occasionally cross it and he's trying to find that balance between toeing the line and not stepping over it.

"I find if I'm not playing on the edge, I'm not playing great," Shaw said. "I need to play physical. Even in preseason, I was just finishing checks — clean, shoulder-to-shoulder — and was getting penalty after penalty. Hockey still is a physical game. There's still hitting; it's still legal. So I'm going to go out there and play hard, make it hard on my opponents, make it hard on them physically, do what I do. Not going to change who I am now. I'm an old dog."

Shaw's reputation may also contribute to the matter. He's racked up more than 600 penalty minutes in his NHL career, including postseason, and the officials might be keeping a closer eye on him when he's on the ice.

"It's something he's got to be aware of, but I also think he's got a bullseye on him," coach Jeremy Colliton said. "If I go back through all the penalties he's taken, he probably earned a couple and he probably earned them five years ago. That's something he's got to deal with. We want him to play hard. I think we can handle the ones where he's running people over. We'll kill those off. Obviously the stick penalties and stuff we don't want. But he's playing hard for the team. That's a good thing."

Said Shaw: "The referees, no matter the history of the player, should call the game as it is. If there's a penalty, call a penalty. If there's not a penalty, you let it go. I mean, yeah, I might have been too vocal in my younger days. But the past three years I've been trying to clean it up a little bit. I just take my penalties when I get 'em. But I must have dug myself a really deep hole. Just trying to climb out of it since."

Still, Shaw knows he has to be smarter about the timing of his penalties and where they're happening. The ones that occur in the offensive zone are the penalties that must be eradicated from his game. The ones he earns from battling between the whistles and sticking up for his teammates, the Blackhawks can live with those.

"Obviously I don't want to take penalties, I don't want to put my team down," Shaw said. "I also don't agree with all of the ones I got. I think I got the short end of the stick on a lot of them. Bite my tongue, go to the box. Our PK's been working hard and competing and killing some penalties. Hopefully they start going my way, I guess."

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Robin Lehner to start in goal for Blackhawks vs. Golden Knights

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USA Today

Robin Lehner to start in goal for Blackhawks vs. Golden Knights

Robin Lehner will start in goal for the Blackhawks when they host the Vegas Golden Knights at the United Center on Tuesday, coach Jeremy Colliton confirmed after morning skate. It will be his third start of the season.

Lehner is coming off a game in which he stopped 37 of 39 shots for a save percentage of .949, which earned him the No. 3 star of the game in a 3-2 overtime win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday. He was fantastic. 

Lehner is 1-0-1 with a 2.47 goals-against average and .931 save percentage in two starts this season.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Blackhawks easily on your device.