The Kings, who staged an epic comeback after losing their first three games to the Sharks and won their last two games against the Ducks to reach the
Instead of coming from behind to win, they've lost their advantage after being ahead. Given two chances to subdue the defending
Now they'll play a Game 7 on Sunday at the
How will this be different?
"Just the third round and a better opponent," Kings Coach
Yeah, that's all. The Kings have more mileage on their legs and must face a team that is finding its stride and riding the brilliant clutch play of winger
Just a round later and an opponent that's showing as much resilience as the Kings did in defeating the Sharks and Ducks and building a 3-1 series lead against the Blackhawks.
This is a trip the Kings didn't want to make. And for a few moments, after
"We've got a one-game playoff here in their building to punch a ticket to the finals," Martinez said, "and we've got to focus on learning from our mistakes tonight and going in there ready to play."
"I think before the series if we were asked 'would you go to Game 7 with Chicago and just be put in that spot in just a one-game thing,' I think we would take it," he said.
But there's a different feeling to it now, after they've backed into this winner-goes-to-the-finals scenario.
They haven't been able to dictate the style in the last two outings and the Blackhawks have gained control and confidence. There's a reason why the Blackhawks won the Cup last season and are a victory away from continuing their quest to become the first repeat champion since the 1997 and 1998
Do the Kings have enough left to close this one out?
Doughty said the other day they weren't fatigued because "your heart doesn't get tired." Their collective heart must measure up to the Blackhawks' on Sunday — and even then, that might not be enough against a team that, like the Kings, knows how to win and has both the individual skill and combined will to make it happen.
"We've got to win. There's no other option," Doughty said. "I think we're going to have our best effort of the series next game. All the guys are going to step up to the plate. The leaders are going to lead the way, everyone else is going to follow, and we're going to have our best effort."
That sounded more like wishful thinking than a bold declaration of victory. But it's their actions, not their words, that will determine whether they go home Sunday with a berth in the Stanley Cup Final or the same regrets they inflicted on the Sharks and Ducks.