Three straight Game 7s: How the Kings got here
JUN 01, 2014 2:12p ET
CHICAGO -- If you had said the Kings would be on the verge of a second Stanley Cup Final berth in three years about eight weeks ago, people probably would have displayed some strange looks.
But the two brutal beatdowns in San Jose and a 3-0 series deficit was only the start of the extremely windy road the Kings have taken in the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
There's been more upsets than an NCAA Tournament bracket as the Kings have reached the Western Conference Finals for a third-straight year. With yet another Game 7 on the road just hours away, here's a look at how they got to Game 21.
How it started: With a thud.
The Sharks trounced their Pacific Division rivals to the tune of 13 goals in the first two games of the Western Conference Quarterfinals. The Kings lost again in Game 3 at home in overtime. But it was a game that showed promise and proved to be the turning point for the entire series.
How it ended: The Kings won four straight to become just the fifth professional North American sports franchise to come back from a 3-0 series deficit to win and advance to the next round.
Star: Anze Kopitar had a point in each of the seven games and five points in the final decisive two. Tanner Pearson and Tyler Toffoli began to turn heads as well scoring key goals in the later games on the road.
Dud: Joe Thornton. Jumbo Joe scored only two goals and assisted on one, all of which came in the first three games. He was a minus-6 for the series and may very well be on his way out of the Bay Area.
What happened next: The win set up a Freeway Faceoff series for the first time in postseason history.
How it started: Home ice proved meaningless as the Kings won the first two in Anaheim's barn and the Ducks won the next two in L.A., evening things up at 2-2. But through it all it was a highly-entertaining series.
Corey Perry's water bottle antics and the Ducks' goalie shenanigans only added to the Orange County-Los Angeles County rivalry. Fans came in herds to both arenas and Go Kings Go was heard in the Honda Center while Lets Go Ducks was loud at Staples.
How it ended: Still knotted at 3-3, the Kings forced yet another Game 7 on the road. With Chicago waiting, the Kings got off to a hot start and the Ducks never had a chance. On their heels from the first period, it was a dominating effort to win another elimination game and advance.
Star: Marian Gaborik scored six goals, five of which came at the Honda Center as he continually frustrated the Ducks throughout the series.
Dud: Ryan Getzlaf made it to the box score and made some brilliant plays along the way but the Kings defensive job on the Ducks' captain was even more brilliant. Getzlaf finished minus-4 in the series.
How it started: The beleaguered Kings took on the defending Stanley Cup Champions less than 48 hours after closing out the semifinals in Anaheim. The first game was somewhat lackluster but soon after, the Kings exploded for six goals in Game 2. They took the next two games at Staples Center as well, again pouring on the scoring.
How it's playing out: The Blackhawks didn't go down easy. The level of play and the quality of hockey is almost indescribable. Two juggernauts matching each other game-for-game, hit-for-hit and nearly goal-for-goal. The double-overtime thriller at the United Center showcased phenomenal hockey. In Game 6 at Staples Center, the crowd gave the players chills by roaring through an entire TV timeout.
But now we stand at yet another Game 7.
Star: The line of Tanner Pearson, Jeff Carter and Tyler Toffoli has provided energy and generated scoring chances with every shift. Head coach Darryl Sutter likes to debate which line they are generally slotting them anywhere from 2-4, but the line of three pure goal scorers has contributed nine of them. Carter even had a hat trick in Game 2.
Dud: First it was Patrick Kane marred in a slump and held off the scoring sheet for three games, but Kane heated up in the last three and should he stay hot, the Kings may be heading back to Los Angeles empty handed.
How it will end: We'll find out at 5 p.m. PT today.
"The further along you go, the more intense it is and the more excitement builds within it," said Kings forward Justin Williams. "There's one game on tonight, and we're it. You get a chance to give it a go, a chance to play for the ultimate prize yet again and we don't want to let that slip through our fingers.
"Successful teams rely on the successes they've had, and the failures they've had, in recent years. We've had a lot of successes in Game 7s. Yes, when you look around, we need to have that confidence in the team. We've done it and we can do it again."