After losing for the first time in their Western Conference quarterfinal, the Blackhawks know they need to be better.
Nobody knows it more than their captain, apparently.
Jonathan Toews took the team to task following Sunday’s Game 3 overtime loss to the Wild — in which Chicago was out-hit, out-shot and generally outplayed.
“We let them do their thing through the second and midway through the third, too,” Toews told the Chicago Sun-Times. “It wasn’t until late in the game that we started playing well and getting back to pursuing pucks and play on offense.
”We can’t be satisfied with that effort.”
Minnesota recorded 34 hits to Chicago’s 13 — granted, there might’ve been some “home cookin'” at play with the Xcel Energy Center’s in-house statistician — and out-shot the ‘Hawks 37-27.
In all, it was the Wild’s most impressive performance of the series.
Even though Minnesota also took Chicago to OT in Game 1, that performance didn’t have the same kind of feel to it. The Wild were outshot by 10 and were out-hit 40-36 in the series opener, and blocked 21 shots to Chicago’s 10 — suggesting the ‘Hawks had a majority of the possession throughout.
That wasn’t the case in Game 3.
Toews realized Chicago didn’t respond well to Minnesota’s best effort of the series, but vowed to improve on that for Game 4.
“We probably didn’t play as well as we should have under that pressure. We’ve got to understand this is what it is. We’ve got to play a smarter road game and understand that teams like that are going to try and overwhelm you.
“We’ve got to come back with more. We didn’t respond enough.”
Here’s your Stanley Cup playoffs schedule for tonight
People love star athletes because they can do amazing things. Even so, people also often love to see the occasional moment of weakness.
Aside from the occasional injury hiccup, Sidney Crosby‘s been as advertised after being a super-hyped No. 1 overall pick. He has that “Golden Goal,” two Olympic gold medals, a Stanley Cup ring and plenty of individual accolades.
Not many people expected the Capitals-Penguins series to be over in five games, but there’s a chance that could happen before the end of the week. After their 3-2 overtime loss to the Pittsburgh on Wednesday night, the Capitals are one loss away from being bounced from the 2016 playoffs.
The Capitals failed to take advantage of the fact that Kris Letang was suspended for Game 4 because of his hit on Marcus Johansson in Game 3. Letang is now set to return for Game 5 which makes Washington’s task even more difficult.
“We didn’t take advantage of it,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz said, per NHL.com. “One thing I said to the guys coming into this, and we talked it about it yesterday, was when Kris got his suspension, is that they’re going to rally. Their whole team, their forwards are going to come back. They talked about they didn’t play their best game (in Game 3) and now they have Letang out and everybody had to step up on their side, and I thought they did.”
If you look back at the regular season, the Capitals were head and shoulders above the rest of the Eastern Conference and the league for a good portion of the season. Washington finished 11 points ahead of second place Dallas in the league standings and it looked like they had the team that would finally take them over the hump.
Although things look gloomy, it’s important to realize that the series is far from over. Many NHLers would tell you that the fourth win is always the hardest to come by in a best-of-seven series, and by no means is anyone expecting the Capitals to wave the white flag.
“Whenever you lose a game, it’s obviously an opportunity missed, but it had nothing to do with them missing some of their players,” said Caps forward Jay Beagle, per NHL.com. “We’re looking forward. Our back’s against the wall and the most important game of our lives is coming up.”
Game 5 goes Saturday night in Washington.
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