The Los Angeles Kings finally put an end to the New Jersey Devils’ comeback to win their first Stanley Cup in franchise history on Monday.
The Kings won the Stanley Cup finals series in six games, taking Game 6 6–1 courtesy of three first-period power play goals off a five-minute major penalty.
Goaltender Jonathan Quick was named Conn Smythe Trophy winner as the MVP of the Stanley Cup final. He posted three shutouts and only lost four games en route to winning the Stanley Cup.
The Devils had the momentum coming into Game 6 until Steve Bernier slammed Kings defenceman Rob Scuderi face first into the end boards early in the first period. Bernier was assessed a five-minute major penalty and a game misconduct as Scuderi, his face bloodied, was slow to get up.
On the ensuing power play, the Kings scored three times led by captain Dustin Brown who had been having a very quiet series up to that point.
It was initially thought that Brown scored the second Kings power play goal until the review showed that Jeff Carter had tipped his shot past Martin Brodeur in the New Jersey goal.
Star defenceman Drew Doughty, 22, and Mike Richards each had two assists on the three power play goals.
The major penalty and game misconduct to Bernier was the first of the Stanley Cup finals series and completely changed the direction of the game.
Carter added his second of the game early in the second period with an accurate shot to the top corner before Devils rookie hero Adam Henrique got a consolation goal late in the period.
“Words can’t really explain it,” said Brown in an interview with CBC after the game. Brown is only the second American captain after Derian Hatcher in 1999 to lead his team to the Stanley Cup.
“There’s a lot of pieces to the puzzle. I’m just one,” said Brown of the total team effort from the Kings.
“It’s indescribable,” said undrafted winger Dustin Penner. “These games mean so much. It’s just a love for the game.” Penner won his first Cup with the Anaheim Ducks in 2007.
Turning the Tide
The Kings breezed through the first three rounds of the Stanley Cup playoffs, losing only 2 out of 14 games. They raced to a 3–0 series lead before the Devils won Game 4.
But it wasn’t time for the Kings to be overly concerned—they hadn’t done too well in Game 4s, losing two of three earlier in the playoffs, but they always seemed to bounce back in Game 5s on the road.
But Game 5 in New Jersey marked a number of firsts. New Jersey’s leader, Zach Parise, scored his first goal (and point) of the series. It also came on the power play, marking New Jersey’s first power play goal of the series.
The goal was the first New Jersey had scored in the first period, but more importantly, it was the first of the game. The team to score first had won 17 straight games in the Stanley Cup final after Game 5.
And of course, the other first was that Game 5 marked the first road loss for the Kings in this year’s NHL playoffs after 10 straight wins.
Game 5 genuinely put a bit of doubt as to the result of the series. The puck started bouncing for the Devils instead of against them.
The Kings could feel unlucky in that they hit the post three times. But defenceman Bryce Salvador’s game-winner mid-way in the third period was a perfect example of the puck bouncing the Devils’ way.
Salvador hopefully flung the puck toward the L.A. goal, but somehow it evaded the stellar Quick.
But the story of Game 6 was the contrast in discipline between the two teams. The Devils amassed 43 minutes in penalties before the Kings were penalized once. Through the first five games, penalties and power plays were not a decisive factor in the series.
“Everyone’s going to be disappointed, but we overcame a lot. We got somewhere where no one really thought we were going to get,” said Devils forward Zach Parise as reported by the official New Jersey Devils Twitter feed.
The Devils entered the playoffs as the No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference.
“It’s no one’s fault,” said New Jersey’s David Clarkson about the Bernier penalty. “We dug ourselves a bit of a hole there and couldn’t come out of it.”
The Kings iced the game with two late third period goals, sending their long-suffering fans into ecstatic celebrations. The team that barely made the playoffs, the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference, had won the Stanley Cup.
Theirs is a run that will be talked about for some time. The Kings became the first team in NHL history to knock off the top three seeds in the conference (Vancouver, St. Louis, and Phoenix) in reaching the Cup final.
In an on-ice postgame interview with NBC, Brown said, “You get to the dance (playoffs). You never know what can happen.” Nobody would’ve believed the Kings could win the Cup as a No. 8 seed in the manner they did.
The Kings were part of the first wave of NHL expansion teams after the Original Six teams. Their first season was 1967–68.
The Kings made a trip to the Stanley Cup final in 1993 led by Wayne Gretzky. That year, the Montreal Canadiens took five games to win their 23rd Cup.
But now, the hockey dream of Canadian-born entrepreneur Jack Kent Cook, who was the original owner of the Los Angeles Kings, has been realized.
Follow Rahul on Twitter @RV_ETSports
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