By Adam Brady
Having endured another heart-wrenching overtime loss last night in Chicago, the Ducks returned to Orange County this afternoon a tired bunch focused on bouncing back in Game 5.
The Ducks are just a day removed from suffering an agonizing 5-4 defeat in double overtime to the Blackhawks in Game 4 at United Center, wasting a three-goal barrage in the third period that was the second-fastest in Stanley Cup Playoff History.
Faced with a 3-1 deficit in the middle of the third, Anaheim reeled off goals from Ryan Kesler, Matt Beleskey and Corey Perry in a head-spinning span of 37 seconds to take the lead. But Chicago rallied back on a Patrick Kane power play goal with 7:21 left, and Antoine Vermette won it 5:37 into the second overtime.
It was the second time in the last three games of the Western Conference Final (including a triple-OT loss in Game 2) that Anaheim ended up on the losing side of a marathon game. But the Ducks remain confident they can bounce back like they have so many times this season.
“I don’t personally worry,” said Ducks defenseman Francois Beauchemin this afternoon. “We haven’t lost yet in regulation in the playoffs, and we’re doing good things. Last night was one of those nights where we had some breakdowns defensively, and we need to correct those. Overall, our game has been pretty solid through the playoffs. This is the way we wanted to play. We need to stay positive.”
Beauchemin, Kesler and captain Ryan Getzlaf were among the Ducks players who spent some time with the media at Honda Center this afternoon before heading home to rest and get ready for Game 4. There was no practice session scheduled for this afternoon.
“I told them to get away from it today,” said Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau. “Go home and don’t sit on the couch or anything. Get some movement and exercise in. But have a good day with your families, and don’t think about the game. Then come back tomorrow refreshed and all excited to play Game 5 in front of our fans.”
Kesler, for one, says he will oblige and “Go sit on the beach and relax, try not to think about hockey for a little bit, spend time with my kids. And when it’s gametime, I’ll be re-energized and ready to go.”
The Ducks are 11-3 in this postseason and have yet to lose two games in a row. They don’t plan on starting now, despite facing a Blackhawks team that has played them tight throughout.
“We have been talking all year as a hockey team about, ‘Never lose two in a row. Never lose two in a row,’” Beauchemin said. “We’ve found a way to respond all season. We’ve had some tough losses in the regular season, and we’ve found a way to bounce back and win the next game. I think that shows how much the guys care, and there is a lot of character in that room.”
Getzlaf says he sees a noticeable difference in his team when they’re coming off adversity. “I think our intensity and our game goes up,” he said. “With the situation we’re in, it’s all about responding. Everything that we designed this team around this year was our ability to put things behind us and move on and keep playing, and not let things affect us from game to game. We need to come back and get back at it. We’re anxious to get back on the ice after a disappointing loss.”
Added Boudreau, “We’ve done it all year. There have been a lot of times we’ve put games together that haven’t been good, and our resolve is really good, as I’m sure is Chicago’s. That’s what makes great series, in the end. It’s two great teams going at it and battling for every inch of ice. That makes it exciting.”
As expected, Boudreau was asked today if he plans on any lineup changes for Game 5, and he said his coaching staff will consider some at the forward spots. Despite the fact veteran blueliner James Wisniewski has yet to make an appearance this season, Boudreau sounded hesitant to shake up his defense despite the five goals against last night.
“Except for three goals in the third period, defensively our team has been pretty darn good in the playoffs,” Boudreau said.
“It’s not a time to panic, it’s a time to believe.”