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Crown them: Gutsy LA Kings win Stanley Cup again
Question of the Day
LOS ANGELES (AP) - Dustin Brown skated over to Gary Bettman and practically snatched the 35-pound silver trophy out of the NHL commissioner’s hands, thrusting it skyward while a packed arena roared.
Although the electric moment had a familiar feel to the Los Angeles Kings and their fans, all this success is still a bit surreal to anybody who loves this long-struggling club.
After 45 years spent mostly as a hockey punch line and a Los Angeles afterthought, the Kings have won the Stanley Cup twice in the last three seasons.
And after eliminating the New York Rangers in five games at the close of an epic two-month playoff run, the Kings are unshakably confident in themselves, in each other - and in the idea they could relive this defining moment a few more times.
“We have a team that simply will not be denied,” playoff MVP Justin Williams said.
Alec Martinez scored 14:43 into the second overtime, and the Kings finished the longest playoff run and the longest game in club history with a 3-2 victory over the Rangers on Friday night.
“I don’t know if we’re part of (a dynasty) yet, but hopefully we’re on our way to that,” defenseman Drew Doughty said. “I believe this group could be at that point, but it’s going to take a lot of work.”
Work doesn’t scare the Kings, as evidenced by their 26-game odyssey through this spring. They first faced elimination more than seven weeks ago when they lost their first three postseason games to San Jose, but followed up that landmark comeback with two more seven-game series victories.
The Kings stayed on a tightrope in the Cup finals, winning the first two games in overtime before missing their first chance to finish the series in Game 4 on Wednesday. Back home in front of their grateful fans, Los Angeles rallied from a third-period deficit and played more than 94 minutes of nail-biting hockey in Game 5.
After innumerable chances for both teams in two nail-biting extra periods, Martinez started the final rush with a pass to Kyle Clifford, who dropped it to Tyler Toffoli for a shot. The rebound went straight to Martinez, and the depth defenseman buried it for his fifth goal of the postseason.
“After it went in, I think I blacked out,” Martinez said.
Martinez is becoming a late-game playoff legend after also scoring in overtime in Game 7 against Chicago in the Western Conference finals, but the Kings all see themselves as part of something bigger. After finishing third in the Pacific Division and falling behind 3-0 to San Jose in the first round, coach Darryl Sutter’s Kings passed every test with togetherness and level heads.
“The playoffs are a very emotional time, and with all the highs and lows we’ve gone through, obviously it’s a really revved-up environment,” said Martinez, whose goal was his only point of the finals. “So it’s important to stay at an even keel, and this is a testament to the character and leadership in our room. I couldn’t be happier for these guys.”
Marian Gaborik scored a tying power-play goal in the third period, and Jonathan Quick made 28 saves in his second Cup-clinching victory. Williams, the Conn Smythe Trophy winner, scored an early goal as Los Angeles added a second title to its 2012 championship, the first in the franchise’s 47-year history.
“What we went through in 2012 (versus) what we went through this year, huge difference,” said Williams, a three-time Cup champion after scoring 25 points. “We really earned it.”
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