The last time the Blackhawks were shut out, in Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinals against the Red Wings, they went on to win three straight games to propel them into the conference championship, where they beat the Kings, the defending Stanley Cup champions.
Chicago is hoping to use that as motivation in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final after losing Game 3, 2-0, Monday at TD Garden. The Blackhawks have gone 122 minutes, 25 seconds without a goal, which is a significant drought.
The Bruins boxed in the Blackhawks for long stretches and it didn’t help that one of their top forwards — Marian Hossa — was a late scratch after apparently suffering an upper-body injury during warmups. But the visitors sounded confident after the loss, saying they believe they can turn the tables and tie the series.
“We’ve got a deep team that’s been the key to our success all season and obviously, we want Hoss playing but if he’s not, we’re confident we can still win games,’’ said forward Patrick Sharp.
At times, the Blackhawks seemed to lack urgency, although much of that was based on the Bruins’ physical and opportunistic play. But Sharp said they are definitely feeling it.
“It doesn’t matter what game, what period, every shift is important,’’ said Sharp. “There is always urgency. Urgency to score, urgency to protect our net so that’s the Stanley Cup Final, we know that.’’
The Blackhawks power play fell to 0 for 11 in the series and 0 for 19 in the last six games.
“There were a couple of ugly plays out there but there was some good movement as well,’’ said Sharp. “A couple of shots. Everyone is looking for production on the power play, we are as well. We keep getting opportunities, moving it around, getting it to the net, we’ll score sooner or later.’’
The Blackhawks’ best period was the third. They outshot the Bruins, 10-9, and had their best chances. Unfortunately for them, goalie Tuukka Rask stopped every chance.
“That whole third period, we were pressing pretty good,’’ said Sharp. “We were making plays, getting to the net a little better, playing our attack/speed game. We always feel like we’re in the game, it doesn’t matter how it looks out there. We’ve got confidence in each other that we can come back in any game.’’
Sharp said they will draw upon the things they did well in the third period and the whole postseason.
“Credit them for protecting their net and their goaltender for making some saves but we’ll take a look at what we can do better and talk about it and be prepared for Game 4,’’ said Sharp.
If there is something about which they should be alarmed, it’s the sheer paucity of available scoring chances. Some of that was the Bruins doing but a lot more was Chicago’s inability to execute. In the first two periods of Game 3, the Blackhawks very much resembled the Penguins in the Eastern Conference finals — read: at a loss as to how to score.
“We knew it was going to be tough, playing in this building,’’ said Sharp. “It was going to be loud, it was going to be physical. I think we started skating better in the third period. We played with a little more desperation. I feel like we can do that right from the first shift of the game. Every shift is important and we’ve got to take a look at what happened today and be ready to go for Game 4.’’
Sharp, who is the last Blackhawk to score a goal — back in Game 2 — said there is no reason to panic about their lack of offense.
He said they have plenty of talent to get the job done.
“I’m confident with the players we have on this team,’’ said Sharp. “We’ve had no problem scoring goals ever really since I’ve been here. We’re in the Stanley Cup Final against a team that deserves to be here and is here because of the way they play defensively and check away from the puck so it’s tough to score out there. But we’ve got to find a way. We know what’s on the line.’’