It requires adjustments to win a series, and the Ducks’ penalty-killing success in Game 3 was a testament to their ability to address failure.
In Game 2, Anaheim surrendered two power-play goals to the Chicago Blackhawks in the game's first 6 minutes, 19 seconds.
A game later, the Ducks killed all five penalties they confronted, including a four-minute double-minor high-sticking call against forward Jakob Silfverberg in the first period.
The Ducks “probably had more pressure, more of an all-out go,” Chicago Coach Joel Quenneville said. “Our best look probably was with [veteran forward Marian Hossa], missed the net on that one great look. Looked like he had some net there. Didn't get some shots through. Didn't get the second opportunities. But they certainly had a heavier pressure.”
Those frequent demoralizing jabs to Chicago’s gut contributed heavily to the Ducks’ 2-1 victory at United Center that gave the visitors a 2-1 series lead in the Western Conference Final with Game 4 on Saturday in Chicago.
In more than nine minutes of power-play time, Chicago managed only one shot.
“They forced us. They came out hard. They didn't give us much of a shooting lane,” Chicago center Andrew Shaw told reporters Friday. “I think with quick puck movement, those quick give-and-gos, I think we should have success.”
A readjustment, in other words.
The Ducks out-hit Chicago, 27-9, and were particularly effective on the penalty kill. After Silfverberg struck Chicago center Jonathan Toews in the face with the stick, the Blackhawks slumbered in a sequence in which they were outshot 9-1.
"Sometimes, pucks are going to bounce the wrong way. You play great opposition, [give up] tips, deflections, things like that, but the structure has been very good," Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau said.
“It's tough to play game in, game out throwing hits like that,” Shaw said, fatigue in mind following Chicago’s triple-overtime Game 2 victory. “It's going to wear both teams down, the guys hitting, the guys being hit. We’ve just got to keep moving our feet, using our speed to get through it.”
The ultimate question of the series now is can the Blackhawks achieve that?
“This game coming up is huge,” Blackhawks forward Brandon Saad said. “It's pretty much a must-win for us.”
Quenneville said he’s banking on the pride of a team that has won two of the past five Stanley Cups and is appearing in its third straight conference final.
“We don't have to reinvent the wheel with this group,” Quenneville said. “I think getting off to strong starts is things we always talk about.
“The leadership, preparation-wise, focus is always in the right place. It's led by our guys that have been around and know how to win. I think that's the message going into games that's most important because as you play in the game, you know, that takes over.
“Going into games, in between games, our guys, they do the right things, they prepare the right way. You couldn't ask for anything more.”