WINNIPEG - An old hockey slogan claims the fourth win is the hardest one to get in a playoff series, but it's the first win that's giving the Winnipeg Jets trouble.
Leading in the third period the first three games against the Anaheim Ducks, the Jets found a way to lose all of them to fall into a 3-0 hole in the first-round series.
The Jets face elimination in Game 4 on Wednesday night knowing they've close been in each game, and yet have still dug themselves a big hole.
"We're not stupid," defenceman Mark Stuart said Tuesday. "We know we've got a tough hill to climb here. But we're a still a confident group. It's not like we're sitting here like, 'Oh, we can't beat this team.' We know we can beat this team."
The Jets have led in the first three games for more than 65 minutes to Anaheim's 11 and were arguably the better team in two of the three of them so far, including the overtime defeat Monday night at MTS Centre.
That's little consolation for a team on the brink.
But the first step for Winnipeg, players and coach Paul Maurice said, is to block out the daunting situation and focus on particular aspects of hockey that need to be better for Game 4.
Meanwhile, the Ducks remember that the Los Angeles Kings came back from this deficit last year against the San Jose Sharks and are determined not to let that history repeat itself.
"You've got a team on their heels and we have our foot right on the throat where we want it, so we've just got to finish them off," goaltender Frederik Andersen said. "We don't want to give them any hope."
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