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Exhausted Blackhawks, Ducks set for Game 3

by Brian Hedger /


Best-of-7 series is tied 1-1


CHICAGO – The Chicago Blackhawks will get a third chance to win a game when playing two days after a long overtime victory in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Blackhawks will host the Anaheim Ducks at United Center on Thursday in Game 3 of the Western Conference Final with the best-of-7 series tied 1-1. Coming off a 3-2 win late in the third overtime of Game 2 at Honda Center on Tuesday, they already know how tough that quick turnaround can be.

Chicago had the same scenario twice in the Western Conference First Round against the Nashville Predators; the Blackhawks won Games 1 and 4 in multiple overtimes, but lost the following game each time by a sizeable margin. However, those two losses came on the road; this game is at United Center, where the Blackhawks are 5-0 this spring.

"I think considering the way we played, we know there's a lot more in the tank," Chicago captain Jonathan Toews said Wednesday. "I think we're excited to get back to home ice, to try to get them on their heels a little bit more, find the excitement [and] that energy we've had in our own building."

Toews, center Brad Richards and defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson met with reporters at the airport in Chicago; each looked exhausted after the cross-country flight.

"You try to beat it the best as possible," Richards said. "[We] tried to get our meals in [after Game 2], get as much sleep as we could. A lot of guys tried to get some good sleep on the plane. But that's about it. That's all you can really do. It's the same. They [had] to fly [Wednesday], too. We're in the same boat."

Not entirely.

The Blackhawks flew back bolstered by center Marcus Kruger’s game-winning goal late in the third overtime period. The Ducks fought off the sting of losing a game they dominated for long stretches.

"I think our mindset this whole playoff has been just to push forward, do what we need to do, get prepared for the next game," Anaheim captain Ryan Getzlaf said. "No matter what the outcome is the one before, it’s about the next one now. You know, never once did we think we were going to sweep the Chicago Blackhawks. We lost one. Now we’ve just got to prepare again."

Chicago's top-four defensemen have played huge minutes in the first two games. Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said Kyle Cumiskey might play more than he did in his postseason debut Tuesday, when he saw 18:34 of ice time. But it’s likely that Duncan Keith, Hjalmarsson, Brent Seabrook and Johnny Oduya, each of whom played more than 46 minutes, will again shoulder the bulk of the ice time.

Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau said he might make a lineup switch based on the high minutes some guys played Tuesday but didn’t get into specifics. He expects a strong response either way.

"We’ve done it all year," Boudreau said. "I would be more surprised if we weren’t able to rebound and play a really great game than if it went the other way around. I’ve been with this group for a long time now. You can see it. They were, rightfully so, very angry [Tuesday] night. Not disappointed, but angry. That’s a good thing."

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