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The resilient Kings earn respect from vanquished Blackhawks

Updated: June 2, 2014 12:28AM



The best team won.

“It’s no coincidence that that team knows how to win,” Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said after the Los Angeles Kings erased deficits of 2-0, 3-2 and 4-3 to beat the Hawks 5-4 in overtime in Game 7 of the Western Conference final.

“Lot of experience there. They won two years ago. Tough one, to go down ­[3-1] against a team like that. It seemed like an insurmountable deficit to come back from. But we found a way and gave ourselves a chance. It’s pretty amazing to have done that against a team like this.”

As close as the series was, the Kings earned the victory more than the Hawks’ let it get away. The Kings overcame nine deficits in the series, including three in Game 7. The Kings are now 8-1 against higher-seeded teams in three seasons under Darryl Sutter — including four Game 7s on the road.

The only loss in that span was last year to the Blackhawks, who won in five games in the 2013 Western Conference final.

“We believe we were a better team than they were this year,” Kings defenseman Drew 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, that we could win. We believed we were going to win it [in five games] at one point but that just didn’t happen. But we never gave up.”

But Dustin Brown would not say it was revenge. The teams have too much respect for each other for that.

“I think last year they smacked us around,” Brown said. “The Hawks won in five games, but it could have been four. I think we were a better team this year and evenly matched.

“This is probably the most emotional seven games I’ve ever played, combined, in a series — the most emotional series because of how games were won and lost and series leads back and forth.”

It could have gone either way. But it went the Kings’ way for a reason.

“In the room, we were, ‘This time, it’s our time,’ ’’ Kings forward Jarrett Stoll said. “They had a couple of overtime winners themselves and they knocked us off last year. And now it was our turn.”

Email: mpotash@suntimes.com

Twitter: @MarkPotash



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