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Blackhawks after 4-1 series: Let’s do better next time

Patrick Kane (taking shot against Wild Game 3 last week) didn’t score goal during five games first-round series. | Andy

Patrick Kane (taking a shot against the Wild in Game 3 last week) didn’t score a goal during the five games of the first-round series. | Andy King~AP

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Updated: June 13, 2013 7:05PM

It’s hard to go onward without going upward in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

The Blackhawks eliminated the Minnesota Wild with a minimum of drama Thursday night. But it wasn’t their A-game, either.

‘‘I think we can play better — that’s something to look at as a positive,’’ forward Patrick Kane said when asked if anything from the Wild series will carry over to the next round. ‘‘I know [the Wild] had some goaltender problems down the stretch. I still feel we could have played better as a team. We [won 4-1] and didn’t play [our] best. You’ve got to feel good about that.’’

Jonathan Toews, who, like Kane, did not score a goal in the series, surely has to be looking forward to being a bigger factor in the next round. He had two assists against the Wild, both in Game 5. But he was more concerned with the team raising its level of play.

‘‘We did a lot of good things this series. We can be happy with that,’’ Toews said. ‘‘But we know going forward that it’s only going to get tougher, that we have to be better. And we’ll just keep stepping up our game and look at the positives from this series and be prepared for whatever’s next.’’

Patrick Sharp, who scored five goals against the Wild, identified arguably the biggest positive from the opening series — or at least a close second to Corey Crawford’s standout performance: The Hawks were the same team against the Wild that they had been during the regular season.

‘‘There was no panic in our game,’’ Sharp said. ‘‘Much like the regular season, we had some close games, some overtime games, and we just kept playing the same way. That’s something we can be proud about. But hopefully we can find that other level, because we’re going to need it the further we go.’’

The Hawks advanced to the second round for the first time since winning the Stanley Cup in 2010. Last year they lost to the third-seeded Phoenix Coyotes. In 2011, they lost 4-3 to the top-seeded Vancouver Canucks. The Coyotes reached the conference finals. The Canucks lost 4-3 in the Cup finals.

‘‘We lost to two really good teams the last two years. You learn from tough losses like that,’’ Toews said. ‘‘I think you saw it in [the Wild] series. Most of all, you saw it in the regular season that we’ve learned a lot from the past two seasons and what we need to do differently as a team. We need to keep applying those rules and the way we play the game as a team.’’

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