CHICAGO -- This run in the Stanley Cup Playoffs by the Los Angeles Kings has been defined by words like resiliency and character, but also depth and talent.
The Kings advanced past the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks with a Game 7, 5-4 overtime win Sunday night at United Center, and the depth was on display in the extra session.
Defenseman Alec Martinez scored 5:47 into the overtime on a play set up by Justin Williams.
"I didn't know it went in until I saw [Jarret Stoll] going bananas there," Martinez said. "He was getting pretty excited. That's when I just started celebrating, too. I didn't really see it go in. I know it went off a couple bodies. I just tried to get it through and fortunately it went in."
Martinez has been a third-pairing defenseman for the Kings for the majority of his four-year career with the team. He logged 13:18 of ice time in Game 7; he and typical partner Matt Greene saw fewer shifts than the other members of the defense corps.
That hasn't always been the case in this postseason though. Martinez was pressed into more expansive duties when first Willie Mitchell, and then Robyn Regehr, were lost to injuries.
He moved onto the team's second paring, and at one point had played more than 18 minutes in seven of 10 games during this run. Whether he's played a lot or a little, Martinez has been solid for the Kings.
The Kings had 26 of the 34 shot attempts at even strength when Martinez was on the ice, and it was the fourth time in seven games Los Angeles has had 60 percent or more.
"I think the playoffs are obviously a very emotional time of year, but I think we've got a good group of guys in here that have been through it before and know it can be a bit of an emotional roller coaster," Martinez said. "But it's real important to stay even keel, not get too high and too low. I think it speaks to the character of this hockey club that there are quite a few times throughout this series that we could have gotten down on ourselves."
Williams has been a first-line player for the Kings in the past, and was for much of this season. When Los Angeles won the Stanley Cup the top line was Anze Kopitar, flanked by Williams and captain Dustin Brown.
The additions of Marian Gaborik through trade and the rookies Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson through development have given coach Darryl Sutter more options. It allowed him to move Williams, one of the top possession players in the League, to the third line with Stoll and either Dwight King or Trevor Lewis.
It has given the team more balance, and that third line was on the ice for two key goals in Game 7.
"I guess it was a Game 7, right? Everyone calls him Mr. Game 7," Brown said of Williams. "The stats speak for themselves, but he's been great. In Game 7s, there is no question about that. For us as a team, it's not ever been about one guy in one particular game. It's always been a team effort. When we're winning a game, it is because we've got everyone going."
Williams said, "Total team effort. Every single guy gave everything they got. I think the emotion at the end of the game spoke to itself."