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Hawks pay price for flat performance

by Brett Ballantini /
CHICAGO -- Of all the potential outcomes of Tuesday night's Game 3 at the United Center, this wasn't one that even the Vancouver Canucks could have divined in their most optimistic thoughts.
For whatever reason, the Chicago Blackhawks appeared sloppy and stifled from the opening faceoff. While sluggish starts have been nothing new for Chicago in this postseason, the Hawks' complete inability to bounce back into the game is a new and disturbing development.
"I didn't like anything about tonight's game," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said after his team's 3-1 loss to the Canucks. "This was the first game of all the playoffs where I can honestly say we weren't up to par."
The shell-shocked Blackhawks were unable to offer any sound reasons as to why their most rabid crowd of the postseason -- 22,659 fans -- was treated to such a cringe-worthy lack of execution that included 21 blocked shots, seven giveaways, and six missed shots.
"We came out flat," defenseman Duncan Keith said. "I don’t know why."
Added defenseman Brian Campbell, who had Chicago's only goal: "This kind of effort was not acceptable. We didn't give our fans a treat for most of this game."
Quenneville praised the fans, but not his players.

"It was a great atmosphere," he said. "We didn't do anything to inspire it further."
"I didn't like anything about tonight's game.  This was the first game of all the playoffs where I can honestly say we weren't up to par." -- Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville
While Quenneville was confident his team would rebound strongly "in all aspects of the game" in Game 4 on Thursday night, Chicago's shoddy effort with seemingly every variable pointing in its favor is cause for concern, to put it mildly.
"Confidence is very high in this room," Campbell said. "We'll come out with a sense of urgency and score first Thursday. It's a long series, and momentum does shift. We have to shift it back."
If Chicago sleepwalks through another first period on Thursday, flailing away at open slappers and misconnecting on stretch passes, its first trip to the playoffs in seven years could be nearing a swift end.

"We have to take advantage of the home ice," Quenneville said. "We have to be excited about Thursday and capture some momentum and some energy."
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