05/01/2009 4:41 PM
- From chicagoblackhawks.com: (link)
No sense crying over spilled milk.
That's the stance the Chicago Blackhawks are taking after storming back from a three-goal, third-period deficit in Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals against the Vancouver Canucks, only to give up a late goal and an empty netter to taste defeat, 5-3
The good news for the Blackhawks is that in fighting back to even the game and make things interesting late, they ignited a sense of quiet buoyancy from within.
"We outplayed them that period and look what happened," defenseman Duncan Keith
said. "We showed what we can do when we're going after it and playing hard and that's the way we have to play. That gave us a lot of confidence going into the next game and we're going to build off that period."
In beating Vancouver's Roberto Luongo three times on 13 shots in the third, Chicago accomplished a rare feat as Luongo had only given up three goals or more five times in 16 career playoff outings coming into the contest.
If in Game 2 (Saturday, 9 p.m. ET, VERSUS, CBC, RDS) the Blackhawks can get to Luongo early and duplicate exactly the way they played throughout the final 20 minutes of the series opener, Chicago believes this series will be tied 1-1 heading to the Windy City.
As no major overhaul is needed for the Blackhawks, that's a safe belief.
Trailing 3-0 at the second intermission in Game 1, Chicago was reassured by coach Joel Quenneville that sticking to its game plan would pay off, and it almost did.
Nothing changed for the Blackhawks in the third period, with the exception of a little line juggling. The team simply put things into perspective and reminisced of the three-goal gap they closed on the Calgary Flames in Game 4 of their opening round series.
Having already hit the target once, why not aim for a bull's-eye again?
"Every guy wanted the puck," explained captain Jonathan Toews
of his team's late game prowess. "We were all expecting the puck and we were ready for it and were shooting and we had them on their heels and they started to feel the pressure and think a little bit more in their own zone."
Despite coming up short, Chicago sent a serious message to Vancouver that they aren't about to be pushed around in this series.
With that in mind, Quenneville said his team should "not be satisfied with what just transpired." One area he singled out as a Blackhawks' weakness was their ineffectiveness in the faceoff circle.
Chicago won 24 of 64 draws for a success rate of 38 percent.
"They're good in that area and I think we have to concentrate on improvement in that area, that was certainly something we stressed going into the last series and will definitely be a point of emphasis going into Game 2," Quenneville said.
The Blackhawks will also have to spend less time in the penalty box next game as it's nearly impossible to generate anything offensively when you're killing off penalties like it's going out of style. In Game 1, Chicago was called for five infractions, resulting in 14 minutes shorthanded.
"We don't take those penalties and we don't run into trouble in our own end," said Toews.
"There's a lot of things we want to focus on, the little details that we can be better at, and they'll make a big difference next time."