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Blackhawks hoping to cure power-play woes

by Brian Hedger

CHICAGO -- It started fine, hit a lull, picked up at the end of the regular season and now the power play is back to troubling for the Chicago Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Chicago is up 3-1 in its Western Conference Quarterfinal series against the Minnesota Wild, with a chance to close it in Game 5 Thursday at United Center (9:30 p.m. ET, CBC, RDS2, NBCSN), but getting better results with the man-advantage is on the Blackhawks' list of things to do.

Chicago has scored on one of its first 11 power plays in the series (9.1 percent) after finishing 19th in the regular season (16.7 percent).

"It's definitely something we've talked a lot about," Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane said Wednesday. "The units have switched a lot throughout the season, but whoever's out there, you've just got to take pride in being out there and making something happen."

Chicago's penalty killing has balanced the power play, killing all 15 Minnesota power plays. As important as a strong penalty kill is for a deep playoff run, having a strong power play to go with it would make things a bit easier.

"I think the last team that really did it was [the Boston Bruins in 2011]," Kane said of a team winning the Stanley Cup with a subpar power play. "I know they struggled on the power play. I know the year we won [2010], we had a great power play and it was a big key to our success. We scored a lot of big goals. Sometimes you get that power play up when you've got a one- [or] two-goal lead and you get another one … it really deflates the other team. I still think we can do it, and by the end of the playoffs hopefully we'll show [it]."

Aside from wanting the team to draw more penalties in the series, Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said the good news is that the power-play drought hasn't dragged down other areas of the game. He said he also hopes the combination of Kane, Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa up front on the team's top power-play unit eventually will start paying dividends.

"I'm expecting better things as we go along here," Quenneville said. "I think the personnel we had on it [Tuesday] to try and get it going hopefully can springboard it into a positive and [give us] some production. But I don't think it slowed us down in our team game. That's something we want to make sure continues … if it doesn't score."

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