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Hawks confident despite facing elimination

CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson has seen how adversity has affected his team in the past.

With those previous experiences in mind, Hjalmarsson said he isn't worried about how the Blackhawks will react to facing elimination against the Los Angeles Kings in Game 5 of the Western Conference finals on Wednesday.

"I think we're the kind of team that in the past and just during the regular season, when we're down, we're playing our best hockey," Hjalmarsson said after the team's morning skate on Wednesday. "That's what I expect from the team tonight and from myself. I think we're going to have our best game of the series here. Everybody's confident here in our team that we can turn this around.

"We did it last year against Detroit, so I think that's huge for our confidence that we know we can turn this thing around."

The Blackhawks are drawing much of that confidence from having overcome a 3-1 series deficit last season. The Blackhawks were down 3-1 to the Detroit Red Wings in the Western Conference semifinals and rallied to win three straight games and take the series. The Blackhawks went on to win the Stanley Cup.

"That's a big reason why we have the confidence," Blackhawks forward Brandon Saad said. "Not only that, but you see a lot of teams this year -- [the Kings] did it twice -- have won three games in a row."

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said his message to his team is about focusing on the smaller picture.

"Going into the game, that's what we're focused on, trying to win the game shift to shift," Quenneville said. "Win the first period, go from there. You look back over this series, we lost three games with three one-period stretches where we uncharacteristically gave up quantity and preventable goals. We have to make sure that's the area we shore up. Let's focus on winning our battles in those one-shift areas."

Quenneville also believes the pressure is on the Kings to close out the Blackhawks.

"I feel it's on L.A," Quenneville said. "Look back against Detroit. We came in here excited about being at home, taking advantage of the home crowd. I don't want to say loose, but let's be excited about the opportunity. Let's go. We got to win one game here."

Kings coach Darryl Sutter doesn't believe the pressure is an issue for either team.

"I think both teams are probably used to pressure," Sutter said. "That's how you get to the 100-game mark or close to 100-game mark. It's what your players want and obviously what they thrive on. I don't think it's more on one team or the other."