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Hawks carry near weight-less momentum into Game 7

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Mike Rozsival.jpgThe Blackhawks have momentum, confidence and home ice heading into Game 7 of their playoff series with the Red Wings on Wednesday night at the United Center -- not that any of that means anything.

The Blackhawks have squandered all three in the course of this series, which makes Wednesday's result unpredictable, though on paper the Hawks are favored to advance after recovering from a 3-1 deficit in the series and a 2-1 deficit in the third period of Game 6 to force a deciding game.

''You've got to feel better about yourself coming off two wins,'' said captain Jonathan Toews, who had a goal and two assists in victories in Games 5 and 6. ''But at the same time you have to keep your feet on the ground the same way we did when we were down 3-1 in the series. We know that it's one game at a time and we can't worry about too many things at once.''

Since a wire-to-wire victory in Game 1, the Hawks have struggled with the wind at their back in this series. They led 1-0 in Game 2 and not only lost the lead but allowed four unanswered goals in a 4-1 loss.

They did not take the lead again in the series until they were down 3-1 -- and promptly lost a 1-0 lead in Game 5 before recovering to win 4-1. They took a 1-0 lead in Game 6 on Monday night and frittered that momentum away when Patrick Eaves scored on a rebound for a 1-1 tie.

It wasn't until the Blackhawks were in real trouble -- down 2-1 at the start of the third period, that they had their most productive run in the series -- they scored three goals in the first 10 minutes of the third period to take a 4-2 lead and coast to victory.

Parlaying an early lead into control of the game is an obvious recipe for success, but an elusive one for the Blackhawks.

That's the situation you want to be in all the time. You want to be up a goal or two and making them have to make plays and chase you down a little bit,'' Toews said. ''It just goes to show. We've shown that all year, during the regular season as well, that if we're down a goal in the third period, it doesn't matter. We can find a way to get back into that game, whether it's winning in overtime or in a shootout.

''We have that patience and that confidence that we can find ways to win games no matter what it looks like. But you have to play a full 60. We showed that last night, and we've got to be ready to use that skill in Game 7 as well.''

As Toews noted, the Hawks have a well-established ability to come from behind. But building off a lead -- one of the key elements to winning Game 7s it would see -- is something they don't seem to be able to figure out.

"Well, it is good to have the lead,'' coach Joel Quenneville said. ''I think you dictate a lot of the things and coming from behind in their building ... the first two times it happened we weren't able to get there. Certainly [Monday] night we got our way through it, but everything's different, but any game you'd definitely like to have the lead.''

At this point, the Blackhawks might have to fall behind to get ahead. Or maybe, after recovering from a daunting 3-1 whole, they figure they'll find a way in Game 7. It's not like they're taking anything for granted.

''We're excited about the way we've played in the last couple games. We feel like we deserve to be where we are,'' Toews said. ''We've got a great chance to go win this series in Game 7 [Wednesday night] at home, so we'll be excited about that. But we know that we've got a lot of work left to do if we want to do that.''

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Mark Lazerus was honored nationally by the Associated Press Sports Editors for three straight years at the Post-Tribune, was named one of the top three columnists in Indiana for three straight years and has won more than 20 statewide writing awards. He has covered Notre Dame for Sun-Times Media, and now covers the Blackhawks.

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This page contains a single entry by Mark Potash published on May 28, 2013 3:13 PM.

Sticky Fingers to Stanley Cup: Rolling Stones-themed questions for the Blackhawks was the previous entry in this blog.

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