CHICAGO – When Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Ray Emery made the save of the night on Anaheim Ducks forward Daniel Winnik, and Patrick Kane went down to the other end of the ice and scored, Bruce Boudreau’s thoughts weren’t censored.
“That was a big one,” the Ducks ‘coach said. “When you have lost four in a row, you go ‘Ah, [crap].’ ”
Going into Friday night, Boudreau’s team hadn’t won since the last time it faced Chicago.
“The way how we have played lately, there’s not a lot of confidence,” right wing Teemu Selanne said.
But Boudreau opined earlier in the day that it doesn’t take a team much to gain or lose confidence. “It’s almost an overnight thing,” he said.
Overnight began Friday night. A 2-1 victory over the Blackhawks at United Center might be exactly what the Ducks needed to get their groove back.
In sweeping the season series against the top team in the Western Conference, Anaheim moved within three points of Chicago. But that wasn’t the only benefit.
“I think we’ve proven something to ourselves that we can beat the best team in the league on any night,” forward Bobby Ryan said.
Even though Boudreau didn’t want to assume that his Ducks were in the Blackhawks’ heads, if these teams meet in the playoffs, it’s hard for Chicago to glean positives from the regular season. Still, defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson doesn’t want this to be the final meeting of the year.
“I hope we’re playing them in the playoffs,” Hjalmarsson said. “It would be fun. It’s been tight games every single game. We know we can play against these guys.”
In the visitors’ locker room, Ducks players were saying they knew they could not just hang with the Blackhawks but beat them. And Friday night was the first time Anaheim didn’t win a game against Chicago by coming from behind, showing it didn’t have to be the same script each time.
Three games, six points. And the Blackhawks scrounged up just one.
“It means that we can play against the best when we’re on top of our game and be competitive,” Boudreau said. “That’s what I get out of it.”
In the short term, the Ducks’ focus was to snap their losing streak at four. Losing can be tough to take, especially for a group that has enjoyed so much success this season.
Winning a game against anyone would have been nice, but Selanne said beating the Blackhawks was “what we needed right now.”