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updated: 5/12/2014 10:59 PM

Blackhawks' focus: Winning series in six

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  • Chicago Blackhawks left wing Bryan Bickell fights for the puck against Minnesota Wild center Mikael Granlund and left wing Zach Parise Sunday in Game 5 of round 2 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs at the United Center in Chicago.

      Chicago Blackhawks left wing Bryan Bickell fights for the puck against Minnesota Wild center Mikael Granlund and left wing Zach Parise Sunday in Game 5 of round 2 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs at the United Center in Chicago.
    John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Patrick Kane (left), Jonathan Toews and the rest of the Blackhawks look to close out the Wild on the road in Tuesday night's Game 6.

      Patrick Kane (left), Jonathan Toews and the rest of the Blackhawks look to close out the Wild on the road in Tuesday night's Game 6.
    John Starks | Staff Photographer

 
 

The NHL announced Monday that the starting time for a possible Game 7 on Thursday between the Blackhawks and the Wild would be 7 p.m.

Perhaps least interested in hearing that news were the Blackhawks, who would like to get it over and done with by late Tuesday night in St. Paul, Minn.

"I don't think we ever think further than the next game; it's not even in the back of our minds," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "We're going to Minnesota excited about the challenge and the opportunity that's in front of us.

"That's our focus and concentration -- on winning that game. That's what it's all about."

The Hawks, courtesy of their 2-1 victory Sunday in Game 5 on Sunday, have a 3-2 series lead and can eliminate the Wild with a victory Tuesday night at the Xcel Center.

Though the home team has won all the games in the series to date, the Hawks do have an ace up their sleeves: Under Quenneville they are 11-2 in possible series-clinching games.

"The experience that everyone's had, the situations that people have been in before can relate to what kind of situation we're in now," said Bryan Bickell, who scored the game-tying goal Sunday.

"To do exactly whatever it takes to clinch this series is one of the hardest things, but I feel like we have the confidence and the poise and the relaxation that we don't get ahead of ourselves and just play shift by shift."

Meanwhile, the young Wild seem to be in a tough spot, having to win two straight. But it's the exact situation they were in against Colorado and ended up taking that series.

"I think we like the challenge," defenseman Ryan Suter said. "We always seem to make things harder than it needs to be. I don't know if that's a good thing to do, but it seems throughout the year that's kind of been the way we've gone about it.

"We'd be up 3 of 4 goals, then let the other team back in it. That's how it's been, that's how it is now, and tomorrow is do or die."

Meanwhile, the Hawks seem to have a relaxed confidence about them heading into the possible series clincher.

"We have a lot of character in the room, a lot of guys that are good in important games, that step up and play their best hockey in games like that," Johnny Oduya said. "I think that's key in situations like this."

Despite the daunting task facing Minnesota -- having to win two straight against the defending champs -- it's a cautious yet confident Wild team heading into Game 6.

"We've got a big challenge tomorrow," coach Mike Yeo said. "We'll be ready for that game, and I know that they will be too.

"We should be all in for this moment. What a great opportunity for our organization. We've got a chance to come home, play in front of our crowd and push this to a Game 7."

First things first, though.

"We just get ready for Game 6 here," Mikko Koivu said. "That's our Game 7 right now."

mspellman@dailyherald.com

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