From electric, positive vibes to serious doubt.
The pendulum swing could not have been greater inside Staples Center on Sunday night, when a game that offered so much promise at the start ended in an alarmingly familiar place in history for the Los Angeles Kings.
They allowed three third-period goals, including two in a span of 21 seconds, in a stunning 3-2 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 3 of their first-round series that sent them back into awkward territory, down 3-0.
The Kings will go into Game 4 on Tuesday with the knowledge that they erased a 3-0 deficit in 2014 against the San Jose Sharks and went on to win the Stanley Cup.
Rookie Alex Iafallo, who scored his first playoff goal, said the Kings have confidence to come back from 3-0.
"We always do. All the experience and veterans in this locker room, they've been through it all," he said. "They've been helping us young guys the whole way. We believe in them and we believe in ourselves, and we'll be fine."
The spotlight was ready for the Kings to get their first playoff win since 2016. They returned Drew Doughty and Jake Muzzin. They were back in the comforts of home ice and their 18,484 towel-waving fans. Jonathan Quick was on his way to a shutout, with help from Iafallo, a scratch in Game 2.
Then this newfound rivalry took a turn on goals by James Neal and William Karlsson.
Neal spun around Oscar Fantenberg on the right side and beat Quick between the legs at 14:23 of the period. Karlsson was completely unmarked to bang in Jonathan Marchessault's pass off a faceoff at 14:44 for a 3-1 lead.
Anze Kopitar redirected a Fantenberg shot past Marc-Andre Fleury to cut it to one with 2:04 left, but it was too little, too late.
The Golden Knights took the game back with a strong second period and kept pounding away with the same tenacity that made them the most successful expansion team in modern history.
Vegas tied it on Cody Eakin's goal more than six minutes into the third period. He one-timed Ryan Carpenter's pass to finish a hemmed-in sequence in the Kings' end that began with Colin Miller's rocket shot off the post.
It broke up what would have been Quick's 10th playoff shutout to break Mike Richter's record for most among U.S.-born goalies. It also quelled Iafallo's goal in the first period that seemed to be all the Kings needed to get back into the series, in the most chippy game yet.
Kings coach John Stevens sounded off on a second-period stick hit by Vegas' Erik Haula on Kopitar.
"We get a guy (Doughty) suspended for making a hockey play, and he (Haula) butt-ends one of the best players in the world in the face with the butt end of his stick," Stevens said. "So, if I was confused before, I'm bewildered now. That's an intent-to injure play."
The building was packed and ready for the Kings' first home playoff game in two years, replete with a new video intro package, and after the physical tone was set, Iafallo struck. He swiped an airborne puck high into the net and it exited so fast that no stoppage took place amid the Kings celebration, and the officials had to review it.
Replays showed it went in. They also showed Dustin Brown chasing down the puck behind the net to get it to Kopitar to feed Iafallo for his first goal since March 3.
Doughty had fresh legs and smarts to send the puck to the Vegas bench to draw a too-many-men penalty during its line change in the first period. Muzzin had to shake off some rust – he committed a turnover up the middle in one of his early shifts and was beaten to the net in the second period – but he drew an offensive-zone holding penalty from Eakin at the end of the first period.
Stevens not only put Iafallo back in the lineup, he reunited the line of Tanner Pearson, Jeff Carter and Tyler Toffoli, which has been used sparingly this season.
In between, the teams brought their hatred to a fervor halfway through the game. Kopitar headed to the bench with his glove to his face after he took the blow from Haula. Just minutes later, Doughty mock-clapped Marchessault and tapped his head after he goaded Marchessault into a mindless, end-of-period high-sticking penalty.