Kings never doubted they'd win series vs. Blackhawks

Kings never doubted they'd win series vs. Blackhawks
June 1, 2014, 11:45 pm
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Nina Falcone

The shouting and cheering resonated down the United Center hallways from inside the visiting locker room, past the crowded huddle of media members and down the walkway to contrast the silence coming from next door.

"Western Conference Champions" shirts hung from each individual stall with matching hats accompanying them by the time the Los Angeles Kings returned from the ice with a victory in hand.

"That was an amazing series, it really was," Drew Doughty said following his team's 5-4 Game 7 overtime win against the Chicago Blackhawks. "It's even better that we won it, obviously, but that was just a hard-fought battle out there."

The series between the Blackhawks and Kings got the Game 7 it deserved, and the fact it ended in an emotionally-charged overtime seemed even more fitting as both teams laid out everything they had left in the tank.

In the end it was the Kings who came out on top, earning a trip to the Stanley Cup Final for their second time in three seasons to face off against the New York Rangers.

[MORE: Checkmate: Blackhawks tripped up by Kings in Game 7]

But their journey to that point wasn't easy. Nothing about this Western Conference Final was easy.

"This was probably the most emotional (series) I've ever played," captain Dustin Brown said. "Most emotional series because of how games were won and lost and series leads back and forth."

When it came to these last seven games, it wasn't just about the wins and losses. Head coach Darryl Sutter said that he felt his team played its best in Games 1, 5 and 6 — the three games they dropped to the Blackhawks.

Each matchup came down to the little details; details both teams felt they could use to their advantage as the series progressed. 

But despite the back and forth, the talks of who faced "more pressure" and the momentum swings throughout the series — not matter how slight they may have been — the Kings never showed any signs of backing down. In fact, their confidence didn't seem to waver once.

"We believe we were a better team than (the Blackhawks) were this year," Doughty said. "Last year I felt like their team was a little bit better, but this year we felt like we were the better team. We were just never going to let that go away, we were always going to believe that we could come back and that we could win."

[RELATED: Blackhawks set several milestones in Game 7 loss]

The Kings' playoff run has been centered around facing adversity. They were down 3-0 in their series against the San Jose Sharks before completing a "reverse sweep" and went on to suffer a 3-2 deficit against the Anaheim Ducks in the second round.

That trend continued against the Blackhawks, not just in the overall series — after all they did have as much as a 3-1 lead — but in each individual game as well. That was once again highlighted on Sunday night, as the Kings faced an early two-goal deficit before tying things up and trading goals with Chicago the remainder of the game.

"We had a good vibe the whole series, believe it or not," Brown said. "It was more of the same. I think this part of the year, guys are grinded down. There's little mistakes being made and that's where you see the more open ice, especially in games that go into overtime because guys are tired."

The Kings had every reason to be tired, playing in three series that all went the maximum number of games, leaving them with very little time to rest. They started each series on the road, dealing with injuries to different players throughout each round.

[WATCH: Jim Cornelison sings the anthem before Game 7]

But they never gave up. They never thought they couldn't get the job done. On Sunday, they even rewrote a little piece of history, becoming the first NHL team to win three Game 7s on the road in a single postseason.

And now that hard work has paid off as they prepare for another trip to the big stage.

"We never thought we weren't going to do it," Doughty continued. "Two of their goals were pretty lucky, one from behind the goalie and the chip shot or whatever that was. We weren't going to let those kinds of goals defeat us. We knew that we were going to get them back, get some dirty goals from crashing the net. 

"That's basically how we won the game. We never gave up."