SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Two California tales as different as they come.
The Los Angeles Kings rewrote the meaning of resilience and character.
The San Jose Sharks punched an entry in the worst section of the NHL record book.
Two great teams, slugging it out over seven games for a second playoff year in a row, but oh my, what a different chapter written in their respective media guides, as Wednesday night's 5-1 win by the visiting Kings capped an incredible series comeback.
"That was a great feeling," said star Kings blueliner Drew Doughty, who scored Wednesday night as you knew he would in a game this big. "Like we said from Game 4 on, Game 1 really, we believed in ourselves from the first game. Even though we went down 3-0, we were never going to give up."
Down the hall, the home dressing room was silent. Antti Niemi was staring into space with half his equipment still on, as if taking his pads off would confirm the Sharks' nightmare was not a dream but a soul-crushing reality.
One by one, glassy-eyed Sharks players came out to speak with the media, hardly hiding how they felt.
"Every year you lose is pretty low, but this one is a type of series that will rip your heart out. It hurts," said star Sharks center Logan Couture, who singled himself out for a disappointing series. "Personally, myself, I didn't play the way I wanted to. I'm one of the guys that's counted on big time to be successful, and I didn't get the job done when we needed to.
"It's going to be a long summer thinking about this one and what we let slip away."
Summer can wait for the Kings. They've still got work to be done this season. And as unbelievable as it is to be only the fourth team in NHL history to pull off a series win after being down 3-0, the veteran Kings were already looking ahead.
"This is something we're all going to remember for the rest of our lives," Doughty said. "We're not done yet. We have to move on. ... This will be in our heads tonight. That was an unbelievable feeling, a great team effort."
"It's one of those things I think you'll look back on later maybe," captain Dustin Brown said. "Right now we're just excited to get onto next round and get focused on Anaheim."
That was about the last thing on the Kings' mind four games ago, after Patrick Marleau's OT goal gave the Sharks a 3-0 series lead and seemingly put an end to the Kings' season.
Except somebody forgot to tell the Kings that.
Outscored 17-8 in the opening three games, the Kings stunningly turned the tables on the Sharks in outscoring them 18-5 over the final four games.
The turning point, as it turns out, was in that overtime loss in Game 3 -- despite the result.
"I think in Game 3 we felt like we could have kind of won that game," Doughty said. "They got one really lucky one in overtime. Instead of [feeling] sorry for ourselves and taking it that way, we were just more determined to get that back. We knew eventually that some luck would start turning our way and it did."
And what started to shift was that all those odd-man rushes the Sharks were enjoying early in the series began going the other way, as the Kings tightened up defensively and the Sharks began to force things, which in turn gave the Kings the puck on offense.