Fatigue starting to kick in for Kings after third straight OT win

LOS ANGELES — Oh yes, they were exhausted. You could see it in their faces, hear it in their voices, no matter what they said Saturday night.

The Kings know the meaning of fatigue. They have played three consecutive overtime games in the playoffs, two in the Stanley Cup Final, and it’s not over yet.

No matter how much satisfaction they got from their 5-4 win in two overtimes over the New York Rangers at Staples Center, they have to be concerned about the toll it’s taking.

"Darn right," coach Darryl Sutter said. "Thought about it late in the third, and I thought about it in the first overtime. It takes its toll — always does."

It would be optimistic to believe the Kings can overcome their own weary legs. But they’ve overcome so much already, anything is possible.

And consider this: It’s not just overtime games, it’s the fact they have been in catch-up mode in each of their past three games: Game 7 of the Western Conference final against the Chicago Blackhawks and Games 1 and 2 against the Rangers.

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Since the last 8:26 of Game 6 against Chicago, the Kings have played 229 minutes 15 seconds without a lead. Saturday night, they trailed the Rangers 2-0, 3-1 and 4-2.

"We’ve been down a lot in the playoffs, and we’re not focused on tying the game or winning the game," said winger Dustin Brown, who scored the winning goal 10 minutes 26 seconds into the second OT. "We’re focused on our next shift. When we do that, we find ways to score big goals."

Still, the Kings have played almost 13 periods in their past three games. They could probably use a massage and a hot tub.

"We’re getting used to it I guess," defenseman Jake Muzzin said. "You just battle. You’re in the zone, you’re playing, you’re having fun and that’s what it’s about — winning games in the playoffs and battling in overtime."

Perhaps no one was tested more than goaltender Jonathan Quick, who stopped 34 shots, including nine in overtime.

New York’s Derick Brassard nearly ended the game in the first overtime, but the puck struck Quick’s left shoulder just before the buzzer.

"You prepare that there’s a chance it could go all night," Quick said. "If you expect to play only 60 minutes, maybe it would wear on you a little bit mentally, but you’ve got to prepare that it could go all night."

As Kings center Anze Kopitar said, both teams had to push through overtime.

"You’re just trying to manage yourself as good as you can at that point," he said. "You’re trying to stick with the short shifts and make sure you make strong plays.

"Since we’re playing, we don’t really think about (fatigue). It’s the same for both teams. We’re playing the same amount of minutes so it doesn’t really matter."

But will it catch up to the Kings? They’ll have a better idea Monday in Game 3 at Madison Square Garden.

"I’€™m a little bit drained," Kopitar said, "but you know, if that’s what it takes to win the game. I think every single guy in here is prepared to drain himself pretty good."