Experience plays big role in Kings' ability to rally
NEW YORK -- Will the magical comebacks ever end?
After becoming the first team in NHL history to play the maximum 21 games en route to to the Stanley Cup Final and, along the way, win three straight Game 7s on the road, the Los Angeles Kings continue to defy the odds in the championship round against the New York Rangers.
The Kings hold a 2-0 lead in the best-of-7 series despite the fact they haven't led in regulation in either of the opening two games at Staples Center; the winning goal was scored in overtime each game.
Los Angeles hopes to get off to a better start in Game 3 on Monday at Madison Square Garden (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS).
"I would have to say we're not proud of the way we started games and find ourselves in the same situation and regurgitating the mumbo-jumbo every time," Kings right wing Justin Williams said. "But we're in a results-oriented League and the results are that we're up 2-0 [in the series] and I don't care how we got here."
The Kings haven't led in their past 229:15 of action, a span of four games. On Saturday, they fell behind 2-0 for the fifth time in the past nine games but improved to 4-1 in those matches.
"We're not a team that wilts under the pressure," Williams said. "We're a team that goes out and wants to make a difference and gets it. I feel that's the big reason we've made it so far."
Williams acknowledged that when he won a Stanley Cup as a member of the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006, there were similar miracle comebacks against the Edmonton Oilers in the championship round. In Game 1 of that Final, in fact, Carolina tied the biggest comeback in Cup history by overcoming a three-goal deficit to win, 5–4.
"I played on a [Stanley Cup winning] team in Carolina in 2006 and we had a lot of comebacks and this has a similar type of feel where you feel you're never out of it," Williams said. "Earlier this year, we might have felt that we couldn't come back, but now we feel that even if we get down one, two or even three goals, we don't care, we're going to keep pushing. The term 60 minutes-plus means a lot to us and to anyone trying to beat us."
During a 5-4 victory in double overtime against the Rangers in Game 2, Los Angeles earned its fourth multi-goal comeback win in the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The most-recent time any team posted as many wins in a playoff year, according to the Elias Sport Bureau, was 1987 when the Philadelphia Flyers won five.
At this point, is there anyone who doubts the Kings could eclipse that mark too?
The Kings rallied from 2-0, 3-1 and 4-2 deficits on Saturday to become the first team in League history to win three straight playoff games after trailing by at least two goals.
How are the Kings getting it done?
"It comes from experience, comes from looking around the dressing room," Williams said. "I look at faces when I look around dressing rooms when we're down a goal, and you could read a lot by what someone's thinking by just looking at their face. Between the second and third [in Game 2 on Saturday] I looked around and didn't see anyone scared. I saw a prepared team that knew what it had to do."
Los Angeles trailed the Chicago Blackhawks 2-0 in Game 7 of the Western Conference Final before securing a 5-4 overtime win and the Rangers 2-0 in Game 1 of the Cup Final in a 3-2 OT victory.
"There are vocal leaders on our team who do step up on certain occasions but overall I think it's a calm mindset [on the bench]," Kings left wing Dwight King said. "Everybody believes in themselves and their teammates. That's the biggest thing we have going for us. When we're in that position, we can find a way and we've been fortunate enough to do it the last three games."
If fatigue is indeed an issue heading into Game 3 at MSG, as coach Darryl Sutter alluded to during his postgame press conference on Saturday, the Kings aren't showing it. Game 4 of this series will take place Wednesday night.
"The middle of this series is every other day," Sutter said. "That's the normal schedule for National Hockey League players."
Williams, who has eight goals and 23 points this postseason, doesn't really believe in word "fatigue" this time in the season.
"The guys are getting their rest," he said. "We had an early game [on Saturday] and got to bed at a decent hour. The guys were sleeping on the plane; it's the Cup Final. There's no excuse for not being ready or being too tired. You can get yourself ready."
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Author: Mike G. Morreale | NHL.com Staff Writer