They were aware of the physical hurdles awaiting them and less sure of the mental battles looming in Game 3 on Thursday night at the United Center.
After all, this was uncharted territory for many Ducks, trying to rebound after losing in triple overtime Tuesday. Center Nate Thompson said many of those issues were addressed in meetings beforehand, talking about trying to take shorter shifts.
"I think it was more of a mental battle for everyone tonight," said Ducks forward Andrew Cogliano. "You basically played two games [on Tuesday] and it's pretty tough.
"Both teams, like I said earlier, were tired. You could tell. The pace wasn't as high, but I think it was a character win from us."
Cogliano said that coming back after such a tough game was a lot like recovering from a tough weightlifting workout, saying: "You're just sore the next day. I think that's the best analogy for it."
Thompson said he could see the lingering impact for both teams. The less glamorous aspects of hockey came into play as the Ducks had a huge edge, for instance, in blocked shots, 27-9.
"Sometimes, in games like this if you had a long game the game before, you have to dig down and gut it out," Thompson said. "That's why you practice hard all year and train in the summer."
Chicago dealt with the fatigue factor by taking out forwards Antoine Vermette and Teuvo Teravainen and inserting Joakim Nordstrom and Kris Versteeg in the lineup. Blackhawks Coach Joel Quenneville said he wanted to get "fresh legs" in for Game 3.
Few players in the NHL like Corey Perry, unless they're playing alongside the Ducks' irksome but productive right wing.
But NBC commentator Mike Milbury might have taken that sentiment a bit too far in comments that clearly annoyed the Ducks on Thursday.
Asked Wednesday how he would stop Perry, Milbury said, "If I were playing against him I would want to hurt him in a painful and permanent way." Milbury, a former NHL player, coach and general manager, later seemed to soften his remarks by saying he would want to have Perry on his team, but Milbury's use of the word "permanent" seemed to take things over the line.
"Obviously it's not something that's been taken lightly," Perry said. "If somebody said something about his kid that way, how would he feel? It's kind of my response. It's all I'm going to say."
Asked if he would want an apology Perry replied, "Yeah, sure, but it is what it is."
NBC Sports/NBCSN executive producer Sam Flood later issued a statement regarding Milbury's remarks: "I talked to Mike and told him that even though it was a tongue-in-cheek segment that built to a compliment — with Mike saying that he'd want Corey Perry as a teammate — word choice matters, even when attempting to be humorous. Mike understood."
Defenseman Francois Beauchemin said Perry's style of play has made the right wing one of the NHL's most effective players.
"He's playing hockey and that's how he's been successful for 10 years, being who he is and scoring goals," Beauchemin said. "He's scored 50 goals in this league before. It's not like he's out there just to distract players."
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman spoke with reporters after the first period. He addressed several issues, including the salary cap, saying he thought next season's cap would be around $71 million.
"Somewhere in the mid-71 region," he said. "That will depend on fluctuations in the Canadian dollar, which is actually up over where it was." The league's salary cap for this season was $69 million.
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