A year ago, simply making the playoffs was enough of an accomplishment for the Kings after an eight-year absence from postseason play.
When this season began they considered making the playoffs to be the jumping-off point for their larger goal of making an impact in the chase for the Stanley Cup.
That could still happen if they erase the Sharks’ 3-2 series lead Monday at Staples Center and carry the series back to San Jose for a winner-take-all seventh game Wednesday. But Monday’s game will be the second straight time the Kings will have faced elimination in this series, keeping them on a tightrope with no safety net below.
They navigated that perilous situation in winning Game 5 at San Jose on Saturday but needed goaltender Jonathan Quick’s 51-save performance to do it. They’ll have to do it again Monday at Staples, where the Sharks won the third and fourth games of the series last week.
“It’s maybe been the underlying theme of this team this year,” said right wing Dustin Brown, the Kings’ captain. “We had a great start and then we put ourselves behind the eight-ball a third of the way through the season, and then we do it again another third of the way through the season, and we found a way to battle back.
“You’ve got to try to take the positives out of our resiliency this year. That might come into play in this series. We got Game 5, we’re back on home ice. We’ve just got to take it really one shift at a time, one period at a time and go from there.”
They've had to be resilient in this series, too. After losing the opener in overtime, they recovered to win the second game, 4-0. After absorbing a crushing defeat at home in Game 3 -- in which they squandered a 4-0 lead before losing in overtime, 6-5 -- and then losing Game 4 as well, they came back for a 3-1 win at San Jose on Saturday.
"This has been a roller coaster of a series. We’ve been up, we’ve been down. We’ve blown leads. We’ve pretty much done everything," Brown said.