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updated: 5/8/2014 6:37 AM

Blackhawks look to bounce back in Game 4

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  • Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford makes a second-period save in Game 1 against the Minnesota Wild.

       Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford makes a second-period save in Game 1 against the Minnesota Wild.
    Daniel White | Staff Photographer

 
By Brian Hedger
Special to the Daily Herald

They developed a habit of losing leads in the regular season, and now the Blackhawks face the possibility of having a 2-0 series lead evaporate against the Minnesota Wild.

After dropping Game 3 of their second-round series Tuesday at Xcel Energy Center and struggling to generate scoring chances, the Hawks now hold a 2-1 lead. Their streak of dropping the first road game of a series is now at nine games.

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That streak dates to March 16, 2010, when the Hawks defeated San Jose on the road in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals.

"It's not a fun stat, but it's a tough league," Patrick Kane said Wednesday at the United Center. "You look at anywhere from (seeds) one to eight in the playoffs, teams can be beaten, and we just came off a six-game winning streak in the playoffs, which I think is pretty impressive in itself.

"I think we're happy with where we're at. Obviously it's never fun losing a game, but it's going to happen, especially in the playoffs."

Still, some are starting to wonder if this team lacks a killer instinct when up early in games or series.

"I don't know about that, not with this team," coach Joel Quenneville said. "I think one of our strengths is the bigger the setting, the bigger the stage -- rising to the challenge and the occasion."

The Hawks' first-round series against St. Louis was a good example. After losing the first two games, the Blackhawks swept through the next four to eliminate their longtime rivals.

Their victory in Game 6 of the Blues series, on home ice, also upped the Hawks' record to 11-2 since 2009 in potential series-clinching games.

They hope to get the same jolt from their latest postseason defeat.

"It's a good hockey team we're playing in a building where they have a ton of success," Quenneville said. "We knew it was a tough game to be going into (Tuesday).

"I thought the approach was fine. Killer instincts, maybe around the net … maybe we could have had a bigger appetite to find that puck or get to that tough area, but I think our team is pretty resilient in a lot of ways. Whatever the challenge is, we try to find ways to overcome them all."

The challenge in Game 4 will be extending their time in the offensive zone and putting more heat on goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, who in Game 3 recorded his first postseason shutout since 2006.

"I think if anything it's a wake-up call for us," Kane said. "Winning six games in a row (in the playoffs), maybe we were a little overconfident in ourselves, and Minnesota did a good job of making it a series.

"We still feel that we haven't played our best game in the series, and hopefully it'll come next game."

Defenseman Johnny Oduya was more blunt.

"We have to play better," he said. "That's just the bottom line."

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