LOS ANGELES -- A series is never over until the handshake line. The Los Angeles Kings can testify, despite their romp through the Stanley Cup Playoffs last year.
Although Los Angeles posted an overall 16-4 record in the postseason, it went 4-4 in close-out games. The Kings will get their first crack of 2013 on Friday night against the St. Louis Blues in Game 6 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals (10 p.m., NBCSN, CBC, RDS).
Following the morning skate, coach Darryl Sutter touched on what is necessary to win after being reminded that his team came back from a 2-0 series deficit.
"The key is always composure with our team," Sutter said. "We don't get caught up in score, series, shift. It's the most important part of the game, and it has to feed from leaders, coaches, and it does, on our team. It's very simple.
"If you're talking about desperation or adversity, well, I guarantee there's guys that said when the series was 2-0 that we were done, or when we were down 2-0 in a game, we're done. Or when we score in the last minute to tie it up in St. Louis, St. Louis was done. [But] they scored in overtime. Nobody's done. That's why you get in long series."
It goes without saying the Kings want to avoid going back to St. Louis for a Game 7. Until their win there in Game 5, L.A. last won on the road March 31, following with an 0-6-2 skid. Los Angeles has won nine straight games at home and St. Louis has dropped seven straight at Staples Center.
The Kings say they don't necessarily draw on last season's Stanley Cup Playoffs, but captain Dustin Brown echoed Sutter's sentiment about applying calmness in a high-pressure situation.
"They're going to be fighting for their lives," Brown said. "They're up against the wall … desperation is a scary thing to play with. We've got to have a controlled, confident group going into Game 6. Sometimes when you're desperate, you're running around. It's more about being even-keeled going in."
That includes the cliché about having a good start and getting the home crowd revved up for what would be the Kings' first postseason series win since the Cup-clinching Game 6 against the New Jersey Devils here last June.
Los Angeles was up 3-0 on New Jersey at one point and had the Devils in their building. The city was braced for the coronation. There was a gleam in Willie Mitchell's eyes at the morning skate. Then the puck dropped and New Jersey came out with a 3-1 win. It won the next game, too, to force Game 6.
"I think if we take anything from last year, every time we had the first opportunity to close out a team, I don't think we had our best start," defenseman Rob Scuderi said. "For most of those games, we ended up on our heels instead of our toes. If we [avoid that], we'll be fine."