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Kings can't avoid Kane, even on off day

by Brian Hedger

CHICAGO -- The Los Angeles Kings are getting tired of talking about Chicago Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane and the new line combination that's given them problems in Games 5 and 6 of the Western Conference Final.

In fact, the Kings on Saturday were tired of talking about the Blackhawks in general. They've lost two straight games to the defending Stanley Cup champions to let a 3-1 lead in the best-of-7 series slip away, forcing Game 7 on Sunday at United Center (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS).

It will be the third straight series the Kings have played a Game 7, making them the third team in NHL history to start the Stanley Cup Playoffs that way, the first to do it with every deciding game on the road.

They don't want to talk about that either. They just want to play it.

"Being self-driven is part of how we got here," said forward Justin Williams, who is 6-0 in Game 7s and ranks second in NHL history with six goals and six assists in them. "We're successful hockey players because we've been able to rise to the challenge every time it's come toward us. Right now we're just forgetting all this other junk that's going on. We're in Game 7. The best team's going to win tomorrow and that's that. And we're going to make sure it's us."

In order to do that, the Kings will have to do a better job containing Kane and linemates Brandon Saad and Andrew Shaw, who were put together by Chicago coach Joel Quenneville to start Game 5.

Kane has two goals and five assists since then, Saad has elevated his two-way play to help open the ice for him, and Shaw is using his speed and grit to get to the front of the net for screens of Kings goalie Jonathan Quick.

Kane was the topic that dominated a press conference Saturday featuring Williams, defenseman Willie Mitchell and center Anze Kopitar. Kane scored the game-winning goal in Game 6 and set up the game-tying goal by Duncan Keith not too long before it, each in the third period after Chicago fell behind 3-2 before winning 4-3. In Game 5, a double-overtime, 5-4 win for Chicago, Kane assisted on the goal by Michal Handzus that won it.

"Well, I'm not going to be here and toot his horn so much," Williams said of Kane. "He's an enemy right now. He's obviously had a huge impact on the last two games, on how they ended. Let's hope that's not the case tomorrow. There's no secret on how you play him, I think. You try and limit his space is what you do."

Mitchell expanded on that sentiment.

"You know, he's a great player," the veteran defenseman said. "We all know that and he plays well in [big] games, so as a group we've got to collectively do a heck of a job against him. We did that in Games 1 through 4 and the last couple games, I think, as a group we gave him some life. So we need to do the same things we did in the first four games and not the last two … check hard and deny him the puck, and when he has the puck, give him the least amount of time as possible, because he's a very creative player and he'll create things not only for himself but for other players out there."

Kings coach Darryl Sutter was asked to weigh in on Kane. He had plenty to say, especially when asked about criticism Kane took in the media for scoring one point, an assist, in the first four games.

"I think it was what everybody was saying just because he hadn't had a point," Sutter said. "He was still very effective. We were very still every time he was on the ice. Somebody would say, 'Cover Kane,' or 'He's behind you,' or, 'That's who they're talking about,' so just because he [didn't] have a point, for whatever reason that's drifted into our game, where if you don't get a point or something, it's, 'Oh, Jeez, he's really struggling,' which is really not the case."

Sutter brought up the Kings' edge in Game 7 experience, with 18 players having played in at least three compared to only Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa having played in that many (seven).

"I just think what it does, is it can take you away from any of the anxiety of it," Sutter said. "I didn't look at it like it's Game 7. I just look at it like we're going to do everything we can to beat Chicago, just like we did last night and just like we did the night before. And somebody outside's not going to decide how we play or any of that. We'll just stay focused on what we can control and play the game."

Injured Kings defenseman Robyn Regehr, who's been out with a knee injury since Game 1 of the Western Conference Second Round against the Anaheim Ducks, has been skating on his own for a week but hasn't taken contact and is doubtful to play, Sutter said.

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