Hossa: We have to win the third game

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:57 PM ET

CHICAGO - When a save needs to be made, Vancouver is getting it. When a goal needs to be scored, Vancouver is scoring it. And when a game needs to be won, Vancouver is winning it.

So if you’re Chicago, caught flat footed in Game 1 and unable to complete one of your patented resurrections in Game 2, you woke up Sunday morning wondering, for the first time in as long as you can remember, if maybe your best just isn’t good enough.

Injured, worn out from a frantic stretch drive and weakened by attrition, the defending champions look ready to fall.

“We have to win the third game,” said Chicago forward Marian Hossa. “Otherwise it’s not going to be good.”

No, no it’s not.

They’re already staring up at a circle of daylight like a kid trapped in the bottom of a well, and the reasons they fell in don’t matter half as much as their plan to get out.

“There’s no excuses, whoever’s hurt you throw the next person in and continue to roll,” said defenceman Brian Campbell. “Nobody’s going to feel sorry for us and it’s not going to win us a playoff series.”

Best not good enough? With Hossa, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, and Patrick Sharp limited to one assist in the first two games, most will argue that the Hawks have yet to table their best.

Head coach Joel Quennevile, lacking the depth he had last year, has no choice but to take the whip to his top guys - Toews is averaging 22:40 per game (four more minutes than Daniel Sedin) while Kane is playing 22:05 - and it’s not working.

“We’re doing a good job on their big guys right now, we’re hoping to frustrate them,” said Canucks defenceman Kevin Bieksa. “We’re playing those guys hard. Their minutes are hard ones. It’s not one or two guys, it’s everybody finishing those guys and making it difficult.”

It’s difficult, all right. The losing hurts more than the hitting.

“We know we can be better, we know we’ve got more in the tank here,” said Kane. “The good thing is we’re going home. We’re in our building, a place that’s really fun to play in, a place that’s probably going to be on fire for us.”

A year ago Chicago didn’t need any help. They won wherever they felt like winning. This time, they’re hoping adrenaline, crowd noise and last change will do for them what The Clear did for Barry Bonds.

If the Hawks are ever going to make a stand, it will come Sunday night. Vancouver is bracing for it.

“They’re going to come out hard the next game, we know that,” said Daniel Sedin. “It’s a championship team over there, they’re never out of it. They’re at home now and they’re going to be better.”

The margin of victory in either game was bikini model thin, but the margin in the series is 2-0, and that’s a sobering gulf, even if the Hawks haven’t played a home game yet.

Can the Madhouse on Madison make the difference?

“It’s a great place to play, great atmosphere,” said Vancouver’s Alex Burrows, who’s actually looking forward to enemy territory. “The national anthem really gets you going, that’s the thing that I enjoy the most about playing in that building, when the fans are all standing up and being really loud, that’s one of the experiences that you really enjoy.

“It’s a tough building to win in, the fans are loud and they’re into the game. But at the same time, if you get the first goal and really silence them, maybe make them turn against their own team a little bit, you know you’ve got them in a good spot.”

ROBERT.TYCHKOWSKI@Sunmedia.ca

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