BOSTON -- The Chicago Blackhawks’ reward for winning the Presidents’ Trophy was home-ice advantage throughout the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs, and with that meant the first two contests of each series were held at United Center.
While the Blackhawks reached the Stanley Cup Final for the second time in four years, each time they have left the comforts of home for the first time in a series, they have begun the two-game road trip with a loss. Chicago has been great at home this postseason -- 10-1 before a Game 2 loss to the Boston Bruins on Saturday night -- the Blackhawks are hoping to avoid an 0-4 postseason in Game 3s on Monday night at TD Garden.
“Yeah, I knew that stat coming in,” Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane said. “I think when you're at home the first two games, sometimes you get a little bit too comfortable at home. Then you come on the road, maybe it's like a rude awakening when you come and play on the road. We've had three series to figure that out, learn it. It was a huge Game 4 against L.A. to come back and win that one. We definitely want to be better tomorrow, especially in the first game on the road.”
The Blackhawks won Game 2 in the opening round against the Minnesota Wild in convincing fashion to take a 2-0 series lead, but the Wild rallied in Game 3 for an overtime victory. Chicago fell behind for the first time in this postseason when the Detroit Red Wings defeated them 3-1 in Game 3 of the Western Conference Semifinals.
Again with a chance to take a 3-0 lead in the Western Conference Final, the Blackhawks dropped Game 3 at Staples Center to the Los Angeles Kings.
“Well, I thought Game 3, we played pretty well in Detroit when it was 1-1 in the series,” Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. “We had a 2-0 lead in Minnesota [and] in L.A. -- maybe we were comfortable with the situation coming off two nice wins. I thought Detroit got our attention after Game 2. It was one of those games could have gone either way.
“Certainly that's got to be our approach going into [Monday] -- desperate, something to prove. We're not happy with the ending [of Game 2 against Boston]. We have to be better.”
The Blackhawks were outshot 37-27 by the Wild and 27-20 by the Kings, but Quenneville was right about the team playing well in Game 3 in Detroit. Chicago peppered Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard with 40 shots, but he turned aside 39.
Shortly after Kane had cut a two-goal lead to one early in the third period, a great shot from Pavel Datsyuk made it a 3-1 deficit and the Blackhawks did not recover.
The Bruins have won five straight games in this building, sweeping the contests here against the New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins in the past two rounds. Boston also won all three home games against the Vancouver Canucks in the 2011 Stanley Cup Final.
“We're extremely excited about the challenge,” Quenneville said. “I think it's a great challenge. We went into Detroit [for Game 6 and] knew we had to win a game. We put ourselves in a tough spot there. We're excited about being on the road. We haven't been on the road in a bit. The next couple games are back-to-back. ... Let's play our game, play to our strengths. We're excited about the challenge.”
In the context of the current series, the Blackhawks also need to bounce back from a deteriorating performance in Game 2 against the Bruins. Chicago was dominant in the first period, winning nearly every shift.
However, Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask kept his team from being blown out and they rewarded him by stabilizing during the first intermission. Chicago didn’t carry the play the same way after that, and then by overtime the Bruins were in control before Daniel Paille’s goal leveled the series at one win each.
“I think right now they do have [the momentum], especially after the last overtime period, where it seemed like they had a lot of chances compared to ours -- got the winning goal, too,” Kane said. “[It is] something we'll look forward to getting back in Game 3.”