The Kings had a good feeling as they looked to close out the Blackhawks in Game 5 on Wednesday.
"We came back, showed some character, but just couldn't find a way to get the winner," a disappointed Jarret Stoll said after Los Angeles' double-overtime loss.
Contact information ( * required )
"I was feeling it," added defenseman Drew Doughty. "It was a tough loss. Not happy about that. Would have liked to have closed it out.
"Just losing in overtime, that stings a lot, knowing we could have had it so many times. We had the lead going into the third, you can't ask for much more than that."
But Los Angeles had to realize this wasn't going to be easy, especially when the defending champs have a leader with the experience, drive and big-picture mentality of Jonathan Toews.
"I think there are times in series where you're up a game or two and everything feels great and it just feels like, 'OK, this is meant to be. We're going to move on to the next round and things are going our way, we're going to keep it that way,' " the Hawks captain said Thursday, minutes before hopping the team charter to L.A.
"And there are other moments where you're down two games to none against St. Louis or three games to one against L.A. and that thought creeps into your mind that maybe it isn't going to be that way.
"But you've got to fight that and overcome it and just fight those negative feelings when you're down in a series. Just see the positive in it and find ways to win."
On a night where Michal Handzus, Brandon Saad and Patrick Kane were the headliners, Toews was noticeable all evening -- including during a breathtaking first overtime session -- as the Hawks somehow, some way were able to get the job done.
"I think we're going to consider ourselves a team that has a chance to win every year, every time we reach the playoffs for a number of years after this year," Toews said. "But it doesn't mean that we're going to be satisfied with that and say, 'OK, maybe this year isn't our year.'
"We have a group that understands the opportunity we have and that it doesn't make any sense to pass that up. We know what we're capable of in our room and we're not going to throw it away."
The captain extended his point streak to three games with an assist on Brent Seabrook's goal, which opened the scoring.
And now, just like that, the Hawks are back from the brink and a win away from tying the series and forcing a deciding Game 7.
"It all comes from the character in the room and the personality from our team that there's always been belief," defenseman Michal Rozsival said. "We know we have the right tools on our team to do anything.
"We believe in ourselves, and even though we have our backs against the wall there was never anything short of belief."
Toews won't allow it as he and the Hawks have their blinkers on now, focusing solely on getting the job done Friday night in Los Angeles.
"We just have to win one game, and that game's (Friday) night," he said. "We're not worried about more than that. The game we played as a team (Wednesday) gave us that good feeling again. As far as I'm concerned we're back on the horse. We're excited to play again (Friday) night."
The captain's leadership appears to be rubbing off throughout this suddenly rejuvenated Hawks squad.
"We've had success on the road before, and L.A.'s definitely tough," Saad said, "but we're not going to let that end the season.
"We can't make any excuses, whether we're playing home or away."