The blackhawks know the math. They know how many games they need to win. They know overcoming a 3-0 playoff series deficit can be more difficult than texting with frostbite.
"It's a huge game for us, a must-win," Hawks winger Patrick Kane said. "Obviously it's a big difference 3-0 to 2-1. We've got to come out flying and use the crowd to our advantage."
Kane was so bold early in the day to say the Blackhawks needed to score a couple of goals early and enliven the United Center crowd.
That wasn't hard to do after back-to-back goals by Patrick Sharp and Andrew Ladd to take a 2-0 first-period lead. They scored a little more than a minute of each other off assists on each goal by Dave Bolland and Martin Havlat.
The Red Wings helped the Blackhawks get on the board. Dan Cleary, a former Blackhawks player who has been the star of the Wings last three games, was in the penalty box for four minutes for high-sticking against Jonathan Toews when Seabrook scored his power play goal at the 8:24 mark.
After falling behind 2-0 in the series at Detroit, the Blackhawks' critical meeting against the Red Wings in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals on Friday night could mean the difference between a free Memorial Day and another day of much-desired work for the Hawks. Game 4 takes place Sunday at the United Center.
The Blackhawks insist they're not intimidated by the long lore of Red Wings history and their defending-champion status.
"I don't think it's a problem of building them up too much," captain Jonathan Toews said. "We've just got to keep telling ourselves we can make plays against these guys and we can execute. We have a lot of creative plays too. When the plays are there, we have to make them."
They seem to mean it, considering how much more improved they looked in their 3-2 overtime loss in Game 2 than they did in their 5-2 loss in Game 1.
"We still feel we're very much in this series," Kane said. "With a win here, it puts us right back in. It's a huge game. Biggest game of the year, for sure."
There was some pre-game speculation about which players would be in the game and which would be playing on the same lines.
Kane and Toews were not on the same line in Game 2, but they practiced together this week.
"To be honest, obviously we've been together such a long time and we have some chemistry and we like playing together," Kane said. "Whoever we're playing against, we're going to go out there and try to do our thing. If [the Red Wings] are going to try to take one of our lines away with the [defenseman Niklas] Lidstrom pairings and things like that, it's a benefit to the other. But we feel like we can go against anyone."
Red Wings winger Pavel Datsyuk will not play, after taking a puck off his foot in Game 2.