Game 5; LA win series 4-1 and Stanley Cup
LOS ANGELES - There will be much, much more written on this victory but for now, let's focus on Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final. After the New York Rangers avoided the series sweep in Game 4 on Broadway, the Los Angeles Kings had a second chance to win their second Stanley Cup in three years - on home once again.
In my Game 5 preview, I said that the Kings needed to get off to a good start, and they did just that. 6:04 into the first period, Justin Williams opened the scoring, backhanding his ninth past Henrik Lundqvist putting the home team out in front, sending Staples Center into a frenzy. Dwight King and Jarret Stoll had the assists.
The Kings held onto that lead until the final five minutes of the second when Chris Kreider tied it for the Rangers at 15:37. Then, it was the former King, Brian Boyle, who slapped home a shorthanded marker (his third) to give the Rangers their first lead of the night with just 30 seconds remaining in the middle frame. Certainly that would deflate most teams. But again, the Los Angeles Kings are not most teams.
The only penalty of the third came at 7:39 when New York's Mats Zuccarello was sent off for tripping Jake Muzzin, The Kings wasted no time making him pay as Marian Gaborik potted his playoff-leading 14th to tie the game just 17 seconds into the man-advantage. But despite outshooting the Rangers 12-3 in the third, the Kings could not muster a go-ahead goal. Suddenly, this game was going to overtime.
For the third time in this series, the Kings and Rangers were tied beyond regulation with Los Angeles prevailing in overtime the first two times (Games 1 & 2). The silver-and-black were simply hoping that the third time would be the charm. But after a highly-intense back-and-forth period, nothing was settled. This game needed a second overtime.
With so many squandered chances from both ends, it was time the Kings finished the Rangers off once and for all.
The Kings had already killed off one penalty in OT #1 and a second in OT #2. They had post hits in their favour and timely defensive plays. The luck, the skill, the patience: it all paid off at 14:43 of the second overtime when defenseman Alec Martinez pounced on a Tyler Toffoli rebound to pot home what will easily be the biggest goal of his hockey career: the Stanley Cup-winning goal.
Martinez jumped up and down in jubilation as the Kings poured off the bench to pile on the overtime hero - again (dating back to Game 7 of the West Final). It was the first time since Bob Nystrom and the New York Islanders in 1980 that a team has won the Stanley Cup in overtime on home ice.
The Los Angeles Kings capped off an incredible postseason with their second Stanley Cup in three years. Justin Williams was awarded the 2014 recipient of the Conn Smythe for his contributions all postseason long, especially in the Finals.
Like I mentioned, much more to be said on this win but for now, we rejoice and pay homage to the 2014 Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings.