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updated: 5/18/2014 11:06 PM

Kings just miss big chance

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  • Los Angeles Kings center Tyler Toffoli (73) watches his shot on goal hit the post past Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford (50) as Michal Rozsival watches during the third period of Game 1 of the Western Conference finals in the NHL hockey Stanley Cup playoffs in Chicago on Sunday, May 18, 2014.

      Los Angeles Kings center Tyler Toffoli (73) watches his shot on goal hit the post past Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford (50) as Michal Rozsival watches during the third period of Game 1 of the Western Conference finals in the NHL hockey Stanley Cup playoffs in Chicago on Sunday, May 18, 2014.
    Associated Press

 
 

Los Angeles forward Tyler Toffoli found iron on his backhander early in the third period.

Kings coach Darryl Sutter found irony after Game 1 of the Western Conference finals.

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Sutter wanted to know if Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville had already answered questions at the podium following the Blackhawks' 3-1 win at the United Center on Sunday.

Answer: Yes.

"We were (second) in the score, too," the usually stoic Sutter said with a smile.

The Kings' runner-up effort is one they know they can build on. They outshot the Blackhawks 26-20, and their fate wasn't sealed until Jonathan Toews fired in a one-timer off Johnny Oduya's dish with 3:50 left in the third period.

"I thought the second period we were jumping, we were creating a lot of opportunities," Kings center Jarret Stoll said. "We outshot them pretty good (17-6). But we've got to play a full game. Today wasn't good enough. We're not going to make any excuses, none whatsoever. We've just got to have a good couple of days, regroup and try to even this series (Wednesday)."

The Kings know they have to play better hockey, plain and simple.

"As Darryl would say, 'OK is not OK,' " defenseman Willie Mitchell said.

Early in the third, with the Kings trailing 2-1, Toffoli had a better-than-OK scoring chance. After skating around Nick Leddy in the offensive zone, he flew in on goalie Corey Crawford and seemingly had Crawford beat, only to dink a low backhander off the post.

"I had an open net," said Toffoli, who scored 12 goals during the regular season. "It just kind of slid off my stick. It's one of those things that happens once in a while.

"But I've got to regroup. I can't do that. I've got to score. That's my job to score goals."

Toffoli scored Los Angeles' only goal, responding just 73 seconds after an apparent second-period tally by Toews was erased due to Toews' incidental contact with goalie Jonathan Quick.

Toffoli finished off a pass from linemate Tanner Pearson, chipping the puck over Crawford's glove to tie score. Jeff Carter also assisted on Toffoli's fourth goal of the playoffs.

"I thought the line was good," Sutter said of Toffoli, Pearson and Carter. "They scored a big goal. Tyler was a good player for us last year against Chicago, too. So I'm sure there wasn't any intimidation coming into this building. He played with (Carter) and Dustin Penner on a good line together last year."

Toffoli's confidence in his team hasn't wavered. After the Kings won three games on the road -- including Game 7 -- in their previous series against Anaheim, they know their series with the Blackhawks is far from over.

"I think we're good enough," Toffoli said. "I don't think we need to back down. I think we've got to keep pushing the pace and keep playing hard. We've got to win Game 2 and go back to Staples (Center) and just keep playing well."

"I think we played fairly well, but I think you have to play great to beat a good hockey club over there (in the other locker room)," said Mitchell, who returned to the Kings lineup after missing the last eight games with an injury. "We turned a few pucks over, and they're a great rush team. And they make you pay. They did that tonight, so we got to clean that up."

And the Kings need to find a way to get more pucks past Crawford, who entered the game leading all NHL playoff goalies in wins, save percentage and goals-against average.

"One goal's not enough," Toffoli said. "We've got to score more than one goal to win a game in the playoffs against the Chicago Blackhawks."

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