They bend, but thus far the Los Angeles Kings do not break.
Against the Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference final, they lost the opener, then won the next three games. A loss at home in Game 6 meant the Kings had to take the series on the road. They won.
Los Angeles defenceman Alec Martinez snapped a shot from the point that seemed to hit everybody but the organ player before beating Chicago goaltender Corey Crawford to end the nail-biting contest at 6:47 of overtime.
It ended a series for the ages between, arguably, the two best teams in the NHL. It is hard to imagine the Stanley Cup final being better than this semifinal.
"To keep battling and come back and win one in overtime, where we have been used to losing in overtime in this barn, was great," said Los Angeles defenceman Drew Doughty. "It's tough to win games here.
"They're a good team at home ... We didn't want to bring it to Game 7 for this reason, to not want to play here, but we still somehow won it. [I] can't wait for the next series to start."
The Kings have now been pushed to Game 7 in all three series. And all three Game 7s were won on the road.
Amazingly, in the final, the Kings will have home-ice advantage. They finished 10th overall (100 points), while the Rangers were 12th (96 points).
Deadline deal dynamo
Los Angeles rolled the dice on enigmatic right-winger Marian Gaborik, acquiring him at the trade deadline, and he more than justified the deal. After scoring five goals and 16 points in 19 regular-season games, he forced Game 7 into overtime with his 12th goal of the playoffs. That, by the way, is one more than he scored in 41 games during the regular season.
Saad, but true
Chicago's Brandon Saad entered the game holding a hot hand with one goal and four points in his past two games with a plus-5 rating. His good fortune continued as he opened the scoring at 5:06 of the first period, thanks in part to the hottest player in the league. Patrick Kane, with eight points in his last three games, sent a pass behind the net from one side to Shaw on the other. Standing on the goal-line, Shaw snapped a shot high to the short side that hit Los Angeles goalie Jonathan Quick on the way in.
Kane's good luck
Kane was so hot that all he had to do to make it 2-0 was stand by the net. Chicago's second goal came 2:57 after the Shaw goal on a shot that hit Kane and dropped in the crease, where captain Jonathan Toews was able to simply tap it in. It was a power-play goal.
Goal, review, goal
The Kings were desperate for a goal and they got one, but it sure was close. Los Angeles captain Dustin Brown took a shot that Chicago stopper Corey Crawford stopped. The rebound popped high in the air and Jeff Carter batted it in. It was very close to being a high stick, but after a review, the call on the ice - a good goal - stuck.
Mr. Game 7
Justin Williams has had a wonderful career, winning Stanley Cups with the Carolina Hurricanes and Kings. He is an above-average regular season right-winger who saves his best hockey for the post-season. And he saves his very best for Game 7s. In six previous Game 7 performances, Williams scored six goals and 12 points and won every game.
Williams was in the penalty box for tripping when the Blackhawks pulled ahead 2-0, but made amends by tying it 2-2, snapping home a rebound from the slot at 17:22 of the first period.
Williams ended the night with a goal, an assist and a plus-2 rating. His 14 points allowed him to pass Hall of Famer Doug Gilmour for most points all-time in Game 7s.
"It is something I am certainly proud of, but I'm most proud of being 7-0 in Game 7s and I'm proud of how we came back tonight," Williams said. "I'm proud of how we played in this series. We didn't give up."
The craziness that was the first period continued with Chicago regaining the lead 12 seconds after Williams scored. Patrick Sharp took a shot on a rolling puck that bounced past Quick.
Tyler ties it
The crazy bounces continued in the second period, when Kings defenceman Matt Greene took a slapshot from the right point that was going wide, but hit Chicago centre Michal Rozsival and deflected to Tyler Tofolli of the Kings, who had an open net and deposited his seventh goal of the playoffs past Crawford.
With the Kings shorthanded, Sharp took a slapshot from the right point that hit Los Angeles defender Jake Muzzin and deflected past Quick.
Chicago right-winger Kris Versteeg sat out last game, but returned to the lineup for Game 7, replacing defenceman Sheldon Brookbank.
Not quite ready
Los Angeles defenceman Robyn Regehr, out with a knee injury since Game 1, took the warmup, but didn't play.
Follow Mike Brophy on Twitter @HockeyBroph
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