ANAHEIM -- When trailing by a goal early in the third period, back-to-back power plays qualifies as a pretty excellent opportunity to find a game-tying goal.
The Chicago Blackhawks were in that position Sunday against the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center during Game 1 of the Western Conference Final. Down 2-1, the Blackhawks earned back-to-back power plays early in the third period.
They did not convert on either, and it proved to be a big chance missed in a 4-1 defeat. Game 2 of the best-of-7 series will be played Tuesday at Honda Center (9 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).
"Everything," Chicago forward Patrick Kane said when asked what could be better about the man-advantage. "Zone entries, get the puck back, know what to expect from their penalty killers, get shots on net. They do a good job of blocking shots. When they do that we have to try to find ways to get them through."
Chicago went 0-for-3 on the power play. The Blackhawks struggled to set up in the Ducks zone during their first man-advantage in the opening period, and Anaheim actually had two decent scoring chances.
"Yeah, they like to push the pace there when they're shorthanded, so we've got to be aware of that and be sharp out there as a power-play unit," Blackhawks forward Brandon Saad said.
The next two chances came in quick succession. Simon Despres went to the box at 3:04 of the third period, and then Ryan Kesler was deposed at 5:32.
"That slowed us down in the momentum part," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. "We didn't generate much opportunity. [We] had the one late flurry on the second chance, but I think that was the turning point where we lost some momentum based on not generating anything."
Chicago's best chances to score came near the end of its second man-advantage. The Blackhawks had five shots total in the game on the power play, but three came in a flurry during the second opportunity.
Anaheim goaltender Frederik Andersen made one of his best saves of the game on Saad's rebound try during that scramble, deflecting the shot away from the goal line while sprawling to his left.
"It was huge," said Ducks forward Nate Thompson, who had a goal and an assist. "I thought everyone did a great job blocking shots, winning faceoffs. Of course, Freddie came up huge for us when he had to. That makes a big difference for us."
Instead of building off the second chance when the third happened seconds later, Chicago's power play looked more like the first one of the game with disjointed passing and a lot of turning and retrieving the puck from the other end of the ice.
"Our penalty kill has been doing the job and that was, I think, one of the key moments of the game, with one of our best penalty killers (Kesler) in the box, and we were able to make some really good reads and I think frustrate them," Ducks forward Andrew Cogliano said. "They have plenty of talent and skill on the power play and we just had really good sticks tonight, didn't give them a chance to generate too much."
Each of these teams has plenty of star power, and the Blackhawks are going to need their top guys to deliver with the man-advantage as the series wears on.
"I think we can be a little bit sharper," Kane said. "Know when we get those power plays you have to bear down and take advantage of those chances. We'll be ready for that come next game."