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Blackhawks have 'little bitter taste' after 3OT loss

by Dan Rosen / Chicago Blackhawks

ST. LOUIS -- At a time when a less experienced team might dwell on missed opportunities and be shattered after losing a Stanley Cup Playoff game in triple overtime, the Chicago Blackhawks are taking a more ho-hum approach by holding their heads up and talking at length about the opportunity in front of them.

There wasn't a shred of noticeable panic, heartbreak or devastation Friday, when defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson, forwards Kris Versteeg and Patrick Sharp, goalie Corey Crawford and coach Joel Quenneville met the media at the Blackhawks' hotel 13 hours after Alexander Steen scored early in the third overtime to give the St. Louis Blues a 4-3 victory in the best-of-7 Western Conference First Round series.

Game 2 is Saturday (3 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, RDS). The Blackhawks haven't won in four games at Scottrade Center this season, but a victory Saturday means they will steal home-ice advantage in the series before it shifts to United Center for Game 3 on Monday.

"We're in good shape and we're ready to go," said Crawford, who made 48 saves in Game 1. "We have that hunger, a little bitter taste. I think we had a chance to win that hockey game being up in the third period. [We] had a couple opportunities, a bunch of opportunities in overtime. We're ready to go for Game 2."

Chicago had a 3-2 lead in Game 1 until Blues forward Jaden Schwartz scored with 1:45 left in regulation. The Blackhawks had power plays in each of the first two overtimes, but couldn't convert. Sharp had a breakaway with 2:40 left in the second overtime, but Blues goalie Ryan Miller stoned him.

"I'd rather have a breakaway and try to score than skate around the ice and do nothing," Sharp said.

Versteeg thought he had the winning goal on his stick with 1:51 left in the first overtime, only to have his shot blocked by Blues center Maxim Lapierre, who was shoved into the crease behind Miller and was in perfect position to bail out his goalie and extend the game.

It appeared Versteeg was about to celebrate before seeing Lapierre get in the way of his shot, but he said he was in fact raising his hands out of disbelief.

"It was more of, 'What the heck just happened?'" Versteeg said. "My hands went in the air like, 'Are you kidding me?'"

The Blackhawks said they are not stunned that Versteeg, Sharp or anyone else couldn't come through on their scoring chances in overtime, just as they're not bent out of shape that Schwartz scored late in the third period.

Chicago is leaning on its experience to help get them through the disappointment of losing Game 1.

To win the Stanley Cup last year the Blackhawks had to overcome a 3-1 series deficit against the Detroit Red Wings in the Western Conference Semifinals, and a 2-1 series deficit against the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup Final. The Blackhawks lost their first road game in all four series.

"We'll move forward," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. "It's a long series. We expected a tough series against this team. There's going to be no easy games, but it's a good example that going forward we've got to find a way to overcome our opponents."

Quenneville said he doesn't anticipate any lineup changes or major adjustments, but the Blackhawks will work on making tweaks.

They want to generate more on their power play, which went 1-for-6 with five shots on goal, including 0-for-4 with three shots from the third period on.

Sharp, echoing a statement made by forward Patrick Kane after the game Thursday, admitted the Blackhawks were too passive in the third period, playing to protect the one-goal lead instead of trying to build on it. Quenneville said they were going to talk about ways to generate more scoring chances during their meetings Friday afternoon.

There were also some defensive-zone coverage issues, particularly on Steen's winning goal, that need to be cleaned up.

"You've got to put things in perspective," Quenneville said. "We've gone through a lot of different situations here and faced a lot of different challenges, but it's one game and it's only one game. We've got to forget about it and overcome it. We're looking to get one game in their building here in the first two, and that's what our motivation is here."

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