For the first time in nearly a month, the Chicago Blackhawks are trying to bounce back from a loss.
Before Wednesday night, the Western Conference champions had won seven straight playoff games since a May 9 setback to Vancouver in the second round. Chicago was also riding a streak of seven consecutive road wins when the Philadelphia Flyers wrecked both runs with a 4-3 overtime victory in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup finals.
How Chicago responds in Game 4 on Friday night could go a long way in determining which team ends its long Stanley Cup title drought.
"You have to like the disposition of our team and their approach," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said Thursday. "We have gone along here seven in a row. You feel good going into games. You feel good when the games are on the line. You feel good in the third period. You feel good in overtime. It's a tough loss.
"Certainly we're disappointed. It should create an appetite for us going into (Friday's) game, and we're looking for a response."
After being just one goal away from a commanding 3-0 series lead, the Blackhawks now face the prospect of being tied should they fall again in Philadelphia, where the Flyers are 8-1 in the playoffs.
"We never planned on a winning streak like that," Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said. "The reality is, in the playoffs that doesn't happen very often. We're happy that we've been able to put something like that together.
"I think we're pretty upbeat today and ready to regroup and get back on the horse and play a better game tomorrow."
The Blackhawks, who haven't won the Stanley Cup since 1961, are 7-2 on the road in the postseason and 14-5 overall. Chicago erased a pair of one-goal deficits in the Game 3 loss and even grabbed the lead in the third period, briefly quieting the Orange Crush crowd that tried to torment the Blackhawks all night.
Philadelphia got even 20 seconds later to set up overtime.
"I don't think we've ever felt invincible, that's for sure, but we've felt confident," no-nonsense center John Madden said. "We don't think too much about how the winning streak is going. We just take each game as a new game, as a new day. You've got to start all over again, just like them. They may have won one game on us, but they've got to start all over again figuring out how to win the next one.
"We've just got to win tomorrow and figure them out."
Except for dropping its final regular-season game and the playoff opener to Nashville, Chicago hasn't lost two straight since a three-game skid in late March. That ended Cristobal Huet's time as the Blackhawks' No. 1 goalie and put first-year player Antti Niemi into position to become a playoff star.
The Blackhawks won six in a row after their last true losing streak. Another defeat in Philadelphia would put the pressure squarely back on favored Chicago heading into Game 5 at home.
"I don't think anybody thinks like that," Madden said. "The minute you start thinking like that, you're done."
One area the Blackhawks need to think about is their special teams play. Chicago hasn't scored a power-play goal in six opportunities over the first three games and has allowed the Flyers to convert on four of their 10 chances
The Blackhawks didn't receive any power plays in their Game 1 win
Much of the scoring responsibility falls on top-line forwards Toews, Patrick Kane and Dustin Byfuglien, who have combined for one goal and three assists in the series.
"That's another thing that can put us over the top," Toews said of special teams. "A lot of things have been going well for us, especially in Games 1 and 2. But when things get really tough, when you see a tight game like last night, maybe that's one of those little details you want to work on, make sure that it could be a difference-maker in a game like that.
"At this time of year, there's always that doubt in your mind. You always think there's got to be a little something more you can give every single game. You try to bring that the next time around. I feel I've gotten better and better as each game has gone on."
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