Head coach Joel Quenneville had stressed throughout this postseason that playing from behind - despite their success at it - was not the path to success for the Blackhawks. And after Chicago’s 3-1 loss to Vancouver Tuesday night, the message rings truer than ever before.
“We dug a huge hole, and it’s tough to overcome that.” Quenneville said. “I thought we did some good things right off the bat, but once they scored we didn’t do much. We weren’t crisp with the puck, we didn’t get it deep or go to the net. Those things made us successful in the first couple of games, but we had a delay in that switch tonight.”
“Everything was kind of off tonight. We tried to make plays and move, but for whatever reason we didn’t do a good job getting in on the forecheck or getting the puck deep,” said Duncan Keith
. “It’s always tougher to win when you’re playing from behind every night.”
The Hawks had consistently rebounded late in games throughout this postseason – in fact, three of the Hawks’ five postseason wins were come-from-behind victories. However, Chicago spotted the Canucks three goals before a power play strike by Brian Campbell brought them back within two. With the lead in hand, Vancouver was able to sit back and let Chicago try to force the puck into the offensive zone.
“Some nights you don’t have it, and you try to change your game up a little bit,” Campbell said. “I don’t think we skated our best tonight. Playing down 3-0 doesn’t help. We’ve got to find a way to have better first periods than we’ve had so far – that was unacceptable tonight.”
“The first periods are killing us in every game so far,” said Kris Versteeg. “Maybe the nerves in front of the home crowd hyped us up a little too much. We just have to settle down and play our game.”
If the Blackhawks want to get back in the series, they know that the big early penalties and flat opening periods will have to end. After dropping their first home game in the series, the Hawks have now returned home-ice advantage to their opponents, and winning any playoff game on the road is a challenge.
“We are certainly disappointed with [the result tonight],” Quenneville said. “We have to come back Thursday with a better effort and a much better approach.”
“We tried to get in on the forecheck and it just wasn’t there; some nights it is, some nights it isn’t,” said Versteeg. “But that’s what is great about hockey: you can always come back the next day and be at your best.”