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Blackhawks can get what they need with Game 7 win

by Brian Hedger

CHICAGO -- Following a press conference inside the locker room Tuesday afternoon, Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville was asked to name his favorite Rolling Stones song before he left.

After spending nearly 10 minutes answering questions about Wednesday night's all-or-nothing Game 7 of a Western Conference Semifinal against the rival Detroit Red Wings, Quenneville paused. He thought about it for a second and said, "You Can't Always Get What You Want."

It drew some laughs, but it was the perfect capper to an odd day at United Center.

The Blackhawks, for instance, did their off-day stretching routine in the hallway outside their locker room while workers busily prepped the building for Tuesday night's first of three Rolling Stones concerts scheduled in a week's time. They also embodied Quenneville's favorite Stones song.

Though they wanted to wrap up this best-of-7 series easier than falling behind 3-1 and storming back to tie, the Blackhawks will get what they need if they can find a way to beat the Red Wings a third straight time in Game 7 Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS).

"To look at the attitude we've had over the last couple games and where we were a few days ago, a huge credit [goes] to the guys for keeping their heads up and staying loose and being positive in the room," Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said. "We felt like we worked really hard, but nothing seemed to go our way in those first three or four games. I think for anybody, I don't want to say it's easy to feel sorry for yourself, but it's easy to get down on yourself a little bit and we didn't do that at all."

Instead, they rallied around each other following Game 4 at Joe Louis Arena -- a stinging 2-0 defeat in which Toews lost his composure and took three straight penalties in the second period. A team meeting was held and words of encouragement were spoken. Most importantly, those words were taken to heart then applied to Game 5 Saturday at United Center.

Chicago won that game by the same 4-1 margin the Blackhawks won the series opener then carried it to Detroit for Game 6 Monday, a memorable night that concluded with a come-from-behind 4-3 victory to force this final game.

Now that the end is nearing, the Blackhawks are merely looking to get what they need in order to keep their season alive.

"We've kept that good feeling going, knowing that if we keep winning games we'll survive in this series," Toews said. "We're feeling good about where we are right now. We've got the momentum and we want to hang on to it for one more game."

Asked if they should be guarded about that momentum swing lulling them into a false sense of security, all Blackhawks who met with reporters Tuesday brushed off the notion. They're embracing the feeling that momentum is on their side, knowing "The Madhouse on Madison" will possibly be more "mad" than it's ever been for a hockey game -- including a critical Game 5 victory there against the Philadelphia Flyers in the 2010 Stanley Cup Final.

"I think we're excited about the opportunity," Quenneville said. "We've put ourselves in a great spot, and we like the way we've played the last couple of games. I think we've improved as the series has gone along here, and we want to play our best game [Wednesday night]."

They're also banking on the fact this will be their third straight elimination game and the first for Detroit since the Red Wings won the sixth and seventh games of their Western Conference Quarterfinal against the Anaheim Ducks.

"I just thought we played two Game 7s, so we're looking forward to the real Game 7," Quenneville said when asked whether his personal emotions will be higher on the bench. "We've put ourselves in a good spot and I'm excited about it."

They just can't get overconfident and lose the drive that's helped them claw back into it.

Those who've dabbled in the business of writing off the Red Wings in the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs have wound up sorry they did. Most believed Detroit didn't have much of a chance against Anaheim in Game 7 at Honda Center, after flying across the country to get there on a day's notice.

The Red Wings won that game and now have a seventh game ahead of them with a much shorter flight attached. Plenty also wrote off Detroit after dropping the first game of this series by three goals, only to see the Red Wings frustrate the Blackhawks and rip off three straight victories to take what seemed like a commanding two-game lead.

Detroit also has quite a bit more experience in seventh games. The Red Wings have 13 players who've played in at least three winner-take-all playoff games; only Marian Hossa (6) and Michal Handzus (4) among the Blackhawks have experienced that many in their careers.

Is Quenneville concerned his team will fall flat on the biggest stage?

"No, you've got to commend the guys with their approach over the last couple games [for] their focus [and] preparation," he said. "You can feel that guys want to be out on the ice. They're comfortable out there. They want more and we've got a lot of options as well. I think we'll be definitely ready."

Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford agrees. His lone Game 7 experience in the NHL came in an overtime loss to the Vancouver Canucks in 2011, but that game was on the road. This one will be played in front of a building packed full of mostly screaming Blackhawks fans.

"We're playing to win," Crawford said. "We're playing with confidence. It's going to be fun [and it's] going to be exciting. We're really excited about this game. It's a fun thing about this time of year, playing in these games and having a chance to move on."

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