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Strong start not enough as Blackhawks lose Game 3

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Updated: June 26, 2014 6:51AM

LOS ANGELES — Jonathan Toews was upset at the way Game  2 ended and was determined to find redemption in Game 3.

“We want to play [ticked] off,” he said.

Toews did. He played angry, he played hard, he played like he was going to win the game all by himself. But he can’t. He needs help. And he didn’t get enough of it Saturday in a 4-3 loss to the Kings that put the Blackhawks in a 2-1 series hole in the Western Conference final.

“Toews came out and led the way, and it’s up to the rest of us to follow that,” Duncan Keith said.

There are two ways to look at this one. You can look at it from Keith’s perspective — which is troubling if in a game of such magnitude, after a game of such disappointment, the Hawks as a team couldn’t match their captain’s intensity.

Or you can look at it from Toews’ perspective — which is troubling, too, because he felt his teammates matched his intensity, and it still wasn’t enough to defeat a team that looks more dangerous by the day.

“We can’t worry about that,” Toews said. “We played well, but we didn’t get the result we wanted. So be it. There’s no time for getting discouraged or getting frustrated.”

On the bright side, if the Hawks didn’t have enough to be angry about after Game 2, they certainly do after Game 3.

They’ve turned a 1-0 series lead into a 2-1 series deficit, they let another second-period lead turn into another loss and they lost the first road game of a playoff series for the 10th consecutive time.

Their power play is 1-for-21 on the road in the playoffs.

They should be angry and possibly embarrassed. In a 60-minute span from late in the second period of Game 2 to late in the second period of Game 3, the Kings scored nine goals, with Jeff Carter racking up seven points — four goals and three assists.

Yes, the Hawks have been in worse situations than this — Vancouver in 2011, Detroit in 2013. But the Kings are suddenly looking like a dominant team, even if they’re keeping things in perspective, too.

“It’s a 2-1 series against the defending Stanley Cup champs,” Kings captain Dustin Brown said. “So I don’t think there’s such a thing as taking control.”

Toews took control early on, scoring a short-handed goal 5:26 into the first period. But the resilient Kings answered right back, as Slava Voynov scored on the same power play. Toews scored again later in the period for a 2-1 lead.

The Kings beat Corey Crawford twice on only four shots in the second — both on what coach Joel Quenneville called “innocent” plays to take a 3-2 lead. Carter scored first, then Tyler Toffoli, as that line (with Tanner Pearson) largely had its way with the Hawks’ line of Patrick Sharp, Michal Handzus and Patrick Kane.

Then Drew Doughty scored midway through the third for the insurance goal, which proved necessary when Sharp tipped in a Nick Leddy shot with 4.2 seconds left.

It was a similar loss to Game 2 and left the Hawks saying similar things — that they need to play better, play harder, play with more urgency and desperation.

Because if they lose on Monday, then they won’t have a choice.

“We need to be the best we possibly can be,” Toews said. “We’ve shown we can do that in the past. The tougher the situation, we’re going to come to play. The motivation is right there in front of us now. There’s nothing left to think about, just go out there and give everything you’ve got. It’s now or never.”


Twitter: @MarkLazerus

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