Chicago Blackhawks to lean on experience
Once again, the Blackhawks are in a tricky situation and have to depend on an excess of playoff experience to bail them out.
After losing Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final at the United Center on Monday, the Hawks know they can ill afford a third straight loss in Game 4 on Wednesday. They also know that it's nothing to panic about.
It's the same situation they faced in the Western Conference finals against the Anaheim Ducks, a similar situation to their 2-1 deficit in the 2013 Cup Final against the Boston Bruins, and they have a mountain of other predicaments they previously have overcome in the playoffs to bolster their confidence.
So what's one more?
"It happens sometimes," said captain Jonathan Toews, who has been limited to just 1 assist in the first three games. "You're up against good teams that are working hard, doing all the right things. You're not always going to be in complete control of a series.
"We've been up in series. We've been down in some series, especially this year. Here we are down 2-1. I think we're confident we can go out there and find a way to even it up (Wednesday) night."
There used to be a time when the Hawks wouldn't have felt comfortable putting it that way. That was before they stormed their way to championships in 2010 and 2013 and before forcing the Los Angeles Kings to score in overtime of the conference finals a year ago to keep them from playing for yet another title.
The playoffs played mental games with the Hawks when they were younger and less experienced. One win made them feel like they'd never lose another game. One loss made it feel like the golf course was beckoning.
"I think now you have that experience, you've played a lot of those games, (and) you realize you don't have to kind of ride the roller coaster that way," Toews said. "You can dig deep and find a way to bounce back after tough games when the feeling isn't so good.
"You realize you don't have to waste any of that emotional or mental energy off the ice in between games. You shut it off and make sure you're ready for the next one."
Johnny Oduya's status for Game 4 is unknown after he sustained an upper-body injury Monday in Game 3.
Asked at a news conference Tuesday, Hawks coach Joel Quenneville made it sound like the dependable veteran would play. He also didn't rule out the possibility that Oduya might miss the game.
"I think he'll be all right," Quenneville said. "He looked all right today. We'll see how he is (Wednesday)."
Should the Hawks not have Oduya, or not be able to use him as much, it would be a big challenge to overcome.
Letdowns hurting Hawks:
The Hawks have allowed the Lightning to counter their goals with quick strikes in each of the past two games, which continued a trend that has lasted throughout these playoffs.
Ondrej Palat's goal to tie the game at 2-2 in the third period, 13 seconds after Brandon Saad gave the Hawks a 2-1 lead, was the 11th goal the Hawks have allowed less than two minutes after one of their own goals in this postseason.
It has happened at least once in all four series, occurring in seven games.
"(We've) got to be better in situations like that," Brent Seabrook said Tuesday. "It's happened a few times throughout the playoffs. You know, in those situations, I think (Joel Quenneville) said it last night … we want to be out there in those situations and be prepared."