CHICAGO -- So often before a Game 7 players from the two combatants will stress the importance of the first goal, and the all-time numbers in NHL history back up that theory.
This Los Angeles Kings group has defied convention on so many occasions during the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs that rallying for a 5-4 overtime victory after yielding not only the first but the second goal in Game 7 of the Western Conference Final against the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks was a fitting conclusion.
"Obviously we're looking around after being down 2-0, saying this wasn't it for us, it wasn't going to end this way," Kings forward Justin Williams said. "Heck, we've battled back so many times this year, so many times so far in these playoffs. We said, Why not again [Sunday]?"
The Kings proved throughout the series that they could erase deficits within games, and two goals in 51 seconds of the first period vanquished the early 2-0 hole and changed the tenor of contest.
Jeff Carter made it 2-1 Chicago at 16:31 of the first when he batted the rebound of a Dustin Brown shot out of the air past Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford. The play was reviewed in case he played the puck with a high stick, but the call on the ice stood.
Williams leveled the score at 2-2. Defenseman Slava Voynov's shot from the right point hit a body in front, and Williams was there to pot the rebound for his NHL-record tying seventh career goal in Game 7s.
Both goals were scored because players went to the area in front of the net, a place the Kings felt they could gain an advantage against the defending champs.
"If you look at their team going into this series, we knew we had to get pucks to the net," Brown said. "They're very good at what we call "ticks" on the puck. They just touch pucks all over the ice. That's their defensive scheme. In the corners, they get a tick on the puck and have another guy right there. Where we thought we could take advantage was getting pucks to the net and battling. You look at a lot of our goals and they are not pretty goals. It is exactly that -- getting pucks to the net and finding rebounds."