LOS ANGELES -- The Blackhawks never thought they'd be in this spot: 3 straight losses to the Kings, including a 5-2 decision Monday night, and now on the cusp of elimination in the Western Conference finals.
"Yeah, it's not a good position to be in," Hawks winger Patrick Kane said. "I think coming into this series you'd be lying if we thought we'd be in this position, but it happens and we've got no one to blame but ourselves."
The Kings, on the other hand, always believed this is exactly where they would -- and should -- be.
"Yup, we know what we have in here and we know what we're capable of," said defenseman Jake Muzzin, whose first-period goal opened the scoring and the floodgates as Los Angeles blasted out to a 3-0 lead 16 minutes into Monday's crucial Game 4 and never looked back.
"We believe in our guys, and when we play good hockey, it's good enough."
It certainly has been all series, and now the Hawks find themselves in the unenviable spot of trailing 3-1 to a Kings team just oozing confidence with a possible series-clinching Game 5 looming Wednesday night at the United Center.
"Here we are," Hawks captain Jonathan Toews said. "We've got to give it everything and nothing less. Credit that team, they're a good team, but we know we've got more. We know that there's something else we can bring to the table.
"We've just got to do some little things here and there to make ourselves feel good and get that confidence, get that swagger back to our game."
Easier said than done against a determined Kings squad that has taken it to the Hawks from the get-go and hasn't let up as it looks to make it back to the Stanley Cup Final after being eliminated by the Hawks a year ago.
"Every team has been through experiences which make them better, especially Stanley Cup championship teams like Chicago and us," Kings forward Justin Williams said. "We've been through a lot, persevered through a lot.
"They're down 3-1. We're trying to squash them. They're trying to get some life."
The Hawks are trying to take some solace in the fact that they bounced back from a 3-1 deficit to Detroit last season and rallied to take that series.
"You can look back at that and say, 'We came out and were successful, so why can't we do it again?' " Kane said. "We're the only ones that are going to get ourselves out of it, so might as well start with Game 5 in Chicago."
Two of Los Angeles' 3 first-period goals -- Muzzin's and Dustin Brown's -- came on the power play, and proved to be daggers.
"You look at the last two games, for 40 minutes we were doing the right things and the last 20 killed us," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "Tonight the first period was the difference. Even though we started off decently we lost a little momentum with our power play there. And they scored early, which got them going."
The Hawks cut the Kings' lead in half with goals by Brandon Saad in the second period and Bryan Bickell midway through the third. But it was too little, too late.
Now the Kings are on the cusp of something big.
"Don't look behind, and don't look ahead," Kings coach Darryl Sutter said of the team's mindset. "We have a big travel day tomorrow, and a tough game ahead."
For the Hawks, the strategy is cliché but true: one game at a time.
"Just don't look at the big picture," Toews said. "If we do, obviously we don't like what we see. Just have to focus on the next game.
"We're still alive in this series. No time to feel sorry for ourselves."