We're right there, boys.
That was the sentiment in the Chicago Blackhawks' dressing room Friday morning, just hours before they attempt to close the gap in the Western Conference Finals in Game 3 at the United Center (8 p.m. ET, VERSUS, CBC, RDS).
The Hawks trail the Red Wings 2-0, but they have certainly been in both games. While they lost Game 1 by a 5-2 score, it was 2-2 midway through the third period. They were better in Game 2 in a 3-2 overtime loss.
Now, they've got their always-raucous crowd behind them.
"We have arguably the best fans in hockey," Chicago forward Kris Versteeg said. "These fans can intimidate you from the (national) anthem on. We hope to just get the fans rolling and get them bumping."
An early goal would certainly set the tone for the Blackhawks, who have notched the first tally in each of the first two games. Combine that with the fact that both games have been highly competitive, and the Blackhawks have reason to believe that this series could be far from over.
"We know we can compete with them," All-Star winger Patrick Kane
said. "I think the first game, they kind of took it to us a little bit, and we were still in the game. The second game we played a lot better, but they played a lot better, too. I think it's things like limiting turnovers. If we do that, we'll be OK. We've got to try to make them play defense and keep it in their end."
Chicago did that in spurts in Games 1 and 2 in Detroit, but not enough to its liking and not enough to manage a split. With the series shifting to the United Center, Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville is hoping his team took some positives away from Joe Louis Arena and will use it to its advantage on Friday night in front of its home crowd.
"We did some good things," Quenneville said. "I liked the response going into the second game. It was a tough loss in overtime. I think our group's been looking forward to today's game and recapturing some momentum and taking advantage of home ice."
All it will take is one play or one bounce -- and captain Jonathan Toews
is hopeful Game 3 will provide it.
"One breakthrough," said Toews, who scored both of Chicago's goals in Game 2. "It'd be nice to get that confidence and know that we can break through and have success against this team. We're not worried about Games 4, 5, 6, 7. It's got to start tonight."
Anyone expecting nerves or butterflies on Chicago's end would be sorely mistaken. The Blackhawks were extremely loose during the morning skate and were laughing it up in the dressing room afterward. It was a clear sign that they're ready to do.
"We're obviously still confident in here ... we don't get down on each other," Versteeg said. "We're still pretty loose. We're joking around and having fun. We want to win this whole thing."
A victory in Game 3 would be a good start. A loss would all but signal the beginning of the end.
"We want to make a run here ... we don't want this season to end," Kane said. "If you go down 3-0, it's so tough to come back, where 2-1 gives us a little life. You never know what can happen."
"We're right there every game," Toews said. "Either way, from start to finish, we want to be better."
Author: Brian Compton | NHL.com Staff Writer