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Blackhawks have answer: Energy solution

Updated: July 7, 2013 1:09PM



LOS ANGELES — Whether it was getting outplayed in the neutral zone, not being able to play with pace, not being able to play in space, getting caught flat-footed or failing to put enough shots on goal to test Jonathan Quick, the solution to what ailed the Blackhawks in their 3-1 loss to the Los Angeles Kings in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals is simple.

They’re going to try harder.

‘‘When you don’t play to the level you want, there’s erosion in your game all over the place,’’ coach Joel Quenneville said Wednesday after the Hawks practiced at Staples Center. ‘‘It’s our level of intensity that nullified what we wanted to do technically.’’

In a seemingly never-ending volley of energy-and-effort performances, it’s the Hawks’ turn to respond after the energized Kings imposed their will with a stout effort. With each team holding serve at home, where the Kings are 8-0 in the postseason, neither team appears to control its destiny.

‘‘I thought we were really prepared and ready for what was coming here in this building [in Game 3], but obviously we were not,’’ said Hawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson, who likely will have extra duty in Game 4 on Thursday night with Duncan Keith serving a one-game suspension for injuring Jeff Carter with a high stick to the face in Game 3.

But it doesn’t take much to change things in the Stanley Cup playoffs, which have a very short memory.

‘‘It’s a new game every night,’’ Hawks winger Viktor Stalberg said. ‘‘Different bounces and different things are going to change the outcome of the game. We have to do everything we can to deserve those bounces.’’

And despite the technical flaws, it always comes back to effort. The Hawks need a little spark to take advantage of their speed. Keith’s suspension could impair their effort — just as Mike Richards’ absence seemed to have an impact on the Kings in Game 2. Or it could provide a little early desperation that provides the jolt the Hawks need to play their game.

‘‘We’ve got to be a little better,’’ Stalberg said. ‘‘We’ve got to come out a little harder. We felt like we were still in a close game [Tuesday night] even though we didn’t play our best. So I think we have another level to go to.’’

‘‘They did a great job taking away time and space,’’ Hjalmarsson said. ‘‘At the same time, we didn’t do a good enough job to get the pucks in a good spot for the forwards — and they could have done a better job for us, too, coming back a little harder and showing themselves. It was us not playing that great, but at the same time, they really brought it [in Game 3].’’

As they all know, there’s only one way to combat that.

‘‘We’ve got to step it up,’’ Hjalmarsson said, ‘‘and find a way to get back [to] the way we played in Chicago.’’



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