It’s likely that a good chunk of the teams who have been down 0-3 in playoff series have put on brave faces.
Still, hindsight has a way of making seemingly throwaway comments seem like much more. At the time, many probably rolled their eyes when Los Angeles Kings head coach Darryl Sutter said his team would not “go away quietly” against the San Jose Sharks after falling behind 0-3. With the Kings’ stunning “reverse sweep” and subsequent championship run in mind, Sutter looks more like a soothsayer.
That’s not to say that the Kings were going into Game 4 with a ton of swagger.
Captain Dustin Brown described that hole as “the most dire situation” the Kings had been in.
Let’s look back at the four games the Kings ended up winning and some of the fallout:
Tyler Toffoli, Marian Gaborik and Justin Williams helped Los Angeles win 6-3.
Even early on, it seemed like the Kings were planting seeds that they might be able to overcome the deficit, as 3-0 leads were deemed a little less foreboding than they once were.
The Kings “went into the cage” and forced Antti Niemi out of the Sharks’ net for a second consecutive game. Bitter San Jose fans will note that this was the game in which key defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic was injured. Los Angeles ended up winning 3-0.
Dan Boyle wondered if the Sharks were taking their series lead for granted.
Los Angeles became the ninth team to force a Game 7 after being down 3-0, an accomplishment in its own right. The Kings once again won decisively, taking this one 4-1. There was some nastiness in this one:
There were plenty of negative reactions to the Sharks’ sudden slump.
Once again, the Kings survived. Once again, the final score wasn’t particularly close, as Los Angeles beat San Jose 5-1 to become the fourth team in NHL history to erase a 3-0 deficit and win a playoff series. Incredibly, Jeff Carter and Mike Richards were on the Philadelphia Flyers team that accomplished such a feat against the Boston Bruins during the 2010 playoffs.
Williams remarked that the Kings should not “do that again,” yet it seemed like they used that big-game experience to become serious survivors in elimination situations.
Los Angeles ended up moving on and winning their second Stanley Cup, although not without remarking that they saw fear in the Sharks’ eyes during their comeback. To some extent, the Sharks are still dealing with the reverberations of that loss as the organization waffled on the subject of rebuilding, awkwardly stripped Joe Thornton of the captaincy and generally seemed to send mixed messages about how it would deal with that crushing defeat.
While the Kings’ 0-3 story ended with the Stanley Cup hoisted in the air, it appears that there are still a few chapters remaining in San Jose’s version of the story.