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Kings can draw on Game 7 experience

by Curtis Zupke

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- The slight grins on their faces and certain tone in their voices were noticeable when Los Angeles Kings Mike Richards and Drew Doughty talked about playing a Game 7.

It's a cliché, but it's true: Game 7s bring hockey players back to their childhoods, when they envisioned scoring the game-winner from the driveway or backyard pond. Those thoughts seemed to run through Doughty's mind Tuesday when he talked about Game 7 of the Western Conference First Round series against the San Jose Sharks to be played Wednesday at SAP Center (10 p.m. ET; CBC,RDS,PRIME).

"Last night, I couldn't sleep [I was] just so excited for this game," Doughty said. "I'm going to have to get a nap in today and get a better sleep tonight because I'm a little tired this morning. I just can't wait to get it going. It's an unbelievable atmosphere in that arena when we come on the ice and they're going to be booing us like crazy right off the bat. It gets the goose bumps going and gets you excited for the game and gets you excited to hopefully beat that team in their rink. I know everyone is looking forward to it."

Doughty said he pays no attention to the “Beat L.A.” chant at SAP Center.

“Whatever,” Doughty said. "I don’t think it’s the best chant I’ve ever heard. It’s not even a good chant.”

The Kings are trying to become the fourth team in NHL history to successfully come back from a 3-0 deficit in a best-of-7 series. The others were the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs, the 1975 New York Islanders and the 2010 Philadelphia Flyers.

Doughty was still buzzing from a 4-1 win in Game 6 that was probably the loudest Staples Center has been this season and conjured up images of the Kings' 2012 Stanley Cup run.

"This feels amazing so far," Doughty said. "If we can top it off in this last game, it's going to be something I'm definitely going to remember. And I think everyone else for the rest of our lives. But we can't get ahead of ourselves like that. We've got to use the experience we have from our Cup run in order to win this game. I know we're going to be fully prepared."

Richards and Jeff Carter can become the first players to twice erase a 3-0 series deficit and win. They were on that 2010 Flyers team that rallied from 3-0 down in Game 7 to beat the Boston Bruins, although Carter did not play because of a foot injury.

Richards, who got that series-winning assist, can draw some parallels to this one.

"We didn't lose as bad in the first couple of games as we did here," Richards said. "But it's similar circumstances. Game 3 was … a similar type of situation though. We were close, and we started getting the bounces like we have been here and capitalizing on some opportunities. We're probably not looking to go down 3-0 tomorrow, but if it is that way, we're still going to fight right to the bitter end and hopefully we can get that win."

Individually, the Kings have an impressive track record in Game 7. Richards, Marian Gaborik and Justin Williams are 4-0, Willie Mitchell is 3-0, and Carter is 2-0. Goalie Jonathan Quick beat San Jose in Game 7 of the conference semifinals last season. Four of Quick's eight career shutouts in the Stanley Cup Playoffs are against San Jose, and he has allowed one goal three times against the Sharks.

Williams added to his big-game legacy with two goals in Game 6. He was the hero of Game 7 against the Sharks last season with two goals in a 2-1 win. Williams has five goals and four assists in four career Game 7s.

"He's been in this position in times before," Quick said. "He's been on teams that figure out ways to win those types of games. I think you learn from those experiences. He's a guy that's certainly been through those experiences, so he's a wealth of knowledge on how to succeed in those situations. It's good to see him get rewarded like that."

Los Angeles might not have defenseman Mitchell, who left the in the second period of Game 6 with an apparent lower-body injury. Coach Darryl Sutter did not have an update on Mitchell.

"We'll see tomorrow," Sutter said.

Defenseman Matt Greene is available to go back into the lineup. The Kings reassigned center Colin Fraser to the American Hockey League, a possible precursor to recalling a defenseman for depth purposes.

Sutter mentioned Game 3 as the difference in the series. The Kings dominated overtime, only to lose on Patrick Marleau's fluky floater that gave San Jose the 3-0 series lead. Many observers thought it would go seven games, but probably not this way.

"It's not our most conventional way to go through a series, but you've got to win in different ways," Richards said. "We put ourselves in a position to move on to the next round, and we have to be ready because obviously they're going to play their best hockey and we're going to play our best hockey. It's going to be a great match."

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