VANCOUVER, British Columbia - It's not so much the fact the Blackhawks lost Game 1 to the Canucks that was so maddening for them.
It's how they lost it.
If there were do-overs, the Hawks would have loved to use one for the final two minutes of the third period when a tie game suddenly became a 5-3 defeat.
Here's how the Hawks' nightmare unfolded: After a turnover by Matt Walker in the attack zone, four Hawks, including defenseman Cam Barker were caught too deep, creating a 4-on-1 the other way. Sami Salo took advantage and scored with 1:13 to play, snapping a 3-3 tie.
Just like that, a loss.
The Hawks were dominating the third period, rallying from a 3-0 deficit, and decided to go for the kill, forgetting it was a deadlocked playoff game with time winding down.
Kris Versteeg, Patrick Kane and Martin Havlat were the forwards on the ice, and it was the end of a long shift, maybe too long.
Versteeg admitted Friday he should have just dumped the puck deep and got off for a line change instead of trying to force a play.
"We were out there for a while and I guess the puck kind of came to me and I really wanted to get off the ice but kind of saw a little bit of a break there," Versteeg said. "We maybe extended ourselves a little bit too long. We were all pretty gassed. I probably should have just got rid of it.
"I think maybe when we made that comeback we were running on quite a bit of emotions and maybe not as much brains."
Those Canucks on the ice were tired as well and looking for a line change. But when Kyle Wellwood picked up Walker's turnover and looked ahead, he saw three teammates and only Walker getting back to defend.
"I was turning up the ice and thinking about changing, because I was tired," Wellwood ssid. "Sure enough they must have been tired too because they weren't backchecking too hard and it ended up biting them in the butt."
Salo scored on a rebound of a shot by Steve Bernier.
"Now I can say, yes, I was shocked, but when you're in the game you're not thinkng of anything," Bernier said of getting a 4-on-1 at that critical point in the game. "I'm sure that's not something that they wanted to do. They're just going for it. They were playing unbelievable, but sometimes you've got to be careful."
Hawks coach Joel Quenneville has watched his young team "go for it," so to speak, most of the season and wasn't angry with what happened. However, Quenneville preaches being aware of the clock and where you are in the game, so from that standpoint he wished those players on the ice would have been more conservative with overtime looming.
"I didn't like maybe what we did with the puck and maybe having the defense go that far up ice," Quenneville said. "We had an odd-man break and you want to take advantage of it, but I think there's give and take on that type of situation.
"I think we need to make a better decision with the puck and without the puck on that play, but we had a lot of momentum and we had an odd-man break. You like some of the things were intending to do, but certainly you don't like the end of it."
Blackhawks vs. Vancouver Canucks at GM Place, 8 p.m.
TV: Comcast SportsNet Plus. Game will switch to CSN in progress after Bulls postgame show.
Radio: WGN 720-AM
At a glance: The Hawks still can accomplish what they set out to do and steal home ice away from the Canucks with a win tonight in Game 2. Vancouver had 7 power plays in its 5-3 win in Game 1. The Hawks need a big bounce-back game from Jonathan Toews, whp played fewer than 14 minutes Thursday and was minus-2.
Next: Game 3 of the Western Conference semifinals at the United Center, 7 p.m. Tuesday.