"It's Game 7," Keith said. "It's overtime. Give L.A. credit. They've got a good team. You know, one shot, one goal."
Blackhawks may remember only that final overtime goal that ended their season Sunday. But what really determined them falling short of their objective to repeat as Stanley Cup champions were the 28 goals they permitted over the course of the series.
The Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup last season and advanced to the Western Conference finals this season largely because of their defense and goaltender Corey Crawford. During their Cup run last season, the Blackhawks gave up an average of 2.09 goals a game, and Crawford had a .932 save percentage in 23 games. In the playoffs this season, the Blackhawks held the St. Louis Blues and Minnesota Wild to 11 total goals in eight wins in the first two rounds.
The Blackhawks and Crawford weren't close to duplicating that success against the Kings.
The Blackhawks held the Kings to less than three goals only once in the series, which came in a 3-1 Game 1 victory. From there, it was downhill for the Blackhawks. They gave up six goals in Game 2, four goals in Game 3, five goals in Game 4, four goals in Game 5, three goals in Game 6 and five goals in Game 7.
The Kings also held the advantage in possession numbers throughout the series. The Kings had a 52.2 Corsi close percentage, which is shot differential with the score tied or within a goal in 5-on-5 situations. The Kings outshot the Blackhawks 224-205 in those situations, according to extraskater.com. It was the largest percentage difference for the Blackhawks in the playoffs during the last two seasons.
"I thought we played two good teams in the first two series, wasn't a lot of room, wasn't a lot of space," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "We didn't give up much. A little bit more open in this series. We're productive, but we have to be better keeping it out of our net."
The Blackhawks didn't blame Crawford for the series, but he had set a higher standard for himself and wasn't as consistent as he had been in the recent past. He had given up more than three goals in only five of 37 games before the Kings' series during the previous two series. Against the Kings, he gave up four or more goals five times.
Quenneville said he thought the Kings' goals were more about the Kings being good offensively than his team struggling defensively.
"They got some quick sticks," Quenneville said. "They go to the net hard. Loose stuff hanging around. They got a fortunate bounce on the winner [in Game 7.] Every goal's different. Their power play really got their offense going. It started in Game 2. Puck started going in on us."
The problem was it never stopped.