Stronger efforts not enough for the Blackhawks, who face playoff elimination on Sunday

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EDMONTON, ALBERTA – AUGUST 15: Marc-Andre Fleury #29 of the Vegas Golden Knights makes the third period kick save on Drake Caggiula #91 of the Chicago Blackhawks in Game Three of the Western Conference First Round during the 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Rogers Place on August 15, 2020 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images)

EDMONTON – If you watched the 60 minutes that were played on Saturday, there was no questioning the effort of Jeremy Colliton’s first playoff team.

After being outshot the previous two games, the Blackhawks had more attempts on goal that the top-seeded Golden Knights. Corey Crawford made a number of strong saves throughout the game in arguably one of his best performances of this postseason.

Yet all of it just wasn’t enough. The eighth-seeded Blackhawks could only stay close, losing to Vegas 2-1 on Saturday night in a spirited effort at Rogers Place. Suddenly, their first playoff appearance in three years is on the verge of coming to an end.

Down 3-0, the Blackhawks face “win-or-leave-the-bubble” games from here on out, including Game 4 on Sunday in a rare playoff back-to-back.

“That’s just the reality (Down 3-0), that’s the way we look at it,” said captain Jonathan Toews when asked about taking positives from a loss in the playoffs. “We did a lot of good things, we were working the bounces, pucks were laying around, they just didn’t find the back of the net.

“Tomorrow we’ve just got to believe that we will.”

They’ll have to on Sunday and then the three following games if the Blackhawks hope to make their own playoff history. The team has lost every series in which they dropped the first three games of the series, including their last appearance in the playoffs in the 2017 Western Conference Quarterfinals against Nashville.

They’d lose the fourth game that year to the eventual Western Conference champions. Some on this Blackhawks’ team were around back in 2011, when the reigning Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks rallied back to force a seventh game in a first round series against Vancouver before losing that final contest in overtime.

Colliton understands where his team is at the moment, and despite the effort, he knows his team must find another level in under 24 hours.

“We want to be that team who plays to the end, never quits. I think we showed character to come back, but in the end it’s a results thing, and we’ve got to find a way to finish it,” said Colliton. “So that will be our focus going into tomorrow; be prepared to battle and put everything we have into the game tomorrow and just win one.”

Maybe their effort and a little bit of luck can keep the season going for another couple of days.

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