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Kings being pushed to the gritty limits by in Game 7 by Blackhawks

Los Angeles KingsNHLSportsIce HockeyPatrick KaneJustin WilliamsChicago Blackhawks
Kings are facing their third Game 7 on road
Blackhawks have shown the ability to come back

They've managed to send nearly everyone home the last three postseasons.

Vancouver, St. Louis (twice), Phoenix, New Jersey, San Jose (twice) and the Ducks. All dispatched by the Kings in some fashion, sent off to some form of summer recreation.

You'll notice a team is missing from their impressive list of playoff victims: the Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks.

It is going to take another helping of history Sunday for the season to continue. The Kings will be taking part in their third Game 7 of this postseason and are only the third team to do so, joining the Toronto Maple Leafs (1993) and Colorado Avalanche (2002). Both teams lost their third Game 7 of those runs, the Maple Leafs falling to the Kings and Wayne Gretzky.

This will also be the Kings' seventh elimination game this postseason. All three Game 7s have been on the road. Sunday night is here at United Center. They were the fourth team in NHL history to rally from a 3-0 series deficit, which happened in the first round against the San Jose Sharks.

"If we have to play 28 games this year to win, if that's what it takes, that's what we have to do," Kings winger Justin Williams said Saturday after the team arrived in Chicago. "We're using all our lifelines so far and we plan on getting the job done yet again."

Lifeline, life raft … take your pick.

Chicago is trying to survive a 3-1 deficit in a series in back-to-back years, which has never been accomplished. In 2003, the Minnesota Wild overcame two 3-1 series deficits in the same postseason. Kings defenseman Willie Mitchell was a member of that Wild team all those years ago.

"I think Game 7 is what hockey is all about," Mitchell said. "As a hockey player, that's the game you want to play. Game 7 with everything on the line. It's kind of the essence of the game."

Williams, who is 6-0 in Game 7s and has six goals and 12 points in those games, addressed the special quality of the winner-take-all moment in hockey.

His Game 7 pedigree was a big topic Saturday and teammates Anze Kopitar and Mitchell, who were with him at media availability, seemed to get a kick out of his mild discomfort in the hot glare of hype. Williams used the word "humbling" to describe his Game 7 success.

Blackhawks star Patrick Kane managed to shape this round to push it to Game 7 after his team trailed 3-1 in the series against the Kings. He had one assist in the first four games and seven points in the last two, factoring in all but two of Chicago's goals in Games 5 and 6.

"I'm not going to be here and toot his horn so much. He's an enemy right now," Williams said. "He's obviously had a huge impact on the last two games on how they ended. Let's hope that's not the case tomorrow. There's no secret on how you play him, you try and limit his space."

Kings Coach Darryl Sutter said Kane did not escape their notice even in the early part of the series when he was finding it hard to break through offensively.

"We were very still every time he was on the ice. Somebody would say, 'Cover Kane,' or, 'He's behind you,'" Sutter said. "That's who they're talking about. Just because he doesn't have a point ...

"He doesn't have four points every night, otherwise he'd have the scoring title won by Christmas. He has four one night, gets highlighted. If he had nothing last night, then it would've been the same question again.

"I'm not interested in talking about Patrick Kane. Patrick Kane is going to get his points tomorrow night too. But I'd be more interested in some of our players that are supposed to be close to Patrick Kane, why they haven't got any in this series."

The matchups, of course, go beyond what the Kings will try to do against Kane, or the showdown between the star centers, Kopitar and Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews. Sutter went out of his way to praise the Chicago defense, most notably Duncan Keith.

"It's not just a line matchup. It's a defensemen matchup, and when you look at their defensemen … there's a good reason why they won the Stanley Cup two of the last three years [actually four] and why they're in the conference finals again. They don't get enough credit.

"Duncan Keith gets a lot of credit, as he should, and he'll probably win the Norris [Trophy], but that's a pretty good group right there. If you've got them six hooked onto a wagon, they're going to pull the wagon all the way to Peoria from here."

lisa.dillman@latimes.com

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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Los Angeles KingsNHLSportsIce HockeyPatrick KaneJustin WilliamsChicago Blackhawks
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