Before the Los Angeles Kings hoisted the Stanley Cup for the second time in three seasons, they went through one of the toughest battles in Cup Playoff history. The longest game any L.A. Kings team has ever played turned out to be the most important as the Kings defeated the New York Rangers 3-2 in double-overtime to capture the 2014 Stanley Cup. The win was almost a microcosm of the playoff journey they took to get to that point, Friday night at Staples Center. It began with a blowout in San Jose, but that season ended in a historic comeback. Each series thereafter ended in similar fashion. Here are the top moments for the Kings on the road to their victorious Game 5.
Mark J. Terrill
First round: Game 3 vs. San Jose
"But they lost!" You might say. But Darryl Sutter feels otherwise. The Kings head coach has repeatedly called that game a turning point in the team's postseason. The Sharks had the Kings in their jaws after two losses and when the series moved back to Los Angeles for Game 3, they saw blood after an overtime win. But a 4-3 win for the Sharks seemed more like a victory for the Kings, who finally played their true gritty, defensive style that is the club’s foundation. The Kings won the next four to complete the "reverse sweep" and become the fifth North American professional sports franchise to come back from a 3-0 deficit to win a postseason series.
Getty ImagesHarry How
The Freeway Faceoff Series
It was a series 20 years in the making. Finally, the Kings and the Ducks were facing one another in the playoffs. It was almost unfortunate that it had to happen in the second round as both teams deserved to go far. Before the first game, an incredible buzz and electricity permeated the Honda Center. The puck dropped in front of a crowd split 50-50, looking more like halloween than the playoffs with half wearing Anaheim orange and half wearing L.A. black. It remained that way through all seven games, creating a truly unique, local atmosphere and taking away the notion of any sort of home ice advantage.
Stick Tap for Teemu
One of the greatest players to ever play the game ended his career in Game 7 of the Freeway Faceoff Series at the Honda Center. After the Kings eliminated the Ducks in the Western Conference Semifinals, no one dared leave the ice for several minutes as the hero of many players on both teams, right winger Teemu Selanne, spent the final minutes of his illustrious career on the ice. Selanne didn't win a Cup in his final season, but the Finnish Flash was honored by the Kings with a ceremonial stick tap by the entire team, showing the class of the organization. Later in the postseason, Selanne would return to Staples Center in a much different role: He joined the Finnish broadcast team as they called the Stanley Cup Final.
Western Conference Final: Game 2 vs. Chicago
Left for dead, 20 minutes away from going down 2-0 in the series and on the power play against the league’s best penalty kill unit, something happened that changed the course of the playoffs: The Kings broke the Blackhawks’ penalty kill. They scored twice in a matter of minutes on the power play and continued the scoring onslaught from there, scoring six unanswered goals. Jeff Carter had a hat trick and it was the beginning of the end for the defending Cup champs.
Getty ImagesTasos Katopodis
Western Conference Final: Game 5 vs. Chicago
It was the most breathtaking hockey you might have ever seen. It was hockey in its purest form. No whistles for a long stretch of time and every player on the ice giving every ounce of effort and intensity they had to give. It was a game that no one wanted to see end and everyone nearly got their wish as the Kings and the Blackhawks played through a scoreless overtime and began a second one. The Kings had a chance to close out the series in just five games. But five is just too easy for the 2013-14 Kings. Michal Handzus scored on his former team in the second overtime period to give the Blackhawks their second win of the series. They would go on to win one more before a third, and final, Game 7.
Getty ImagesJonathan Daniel
Quick’s Return to Old Form
Goaltender Jonathan Quick had been the cog in many games throughout the postseason. While Sutter never lost trust in his Jennings Trophy winning goalie, there were times where it looked like he might have momentarily doubted him (Game 4 against Anaheim, now infamously known as the Goalie Shenanigan Game, comes to mind). But in his first start since a PeeWee shootout at Madison Square Garden, the Kings' goalie was lights-out. Quick shutout the Rangers to help the Kings go up 3-0 in the series. It was a victory that would prove key as the Rangers would never fully recover.
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A real snow job
How close did the Kings come to sweeping the Rangers in four games? As close as a few flakes of snow. Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist was spectacular in Game 4, but two shots got past him before stopping millimeters short. One was kept from rolling into the net by Anton Strahlman, and another literally stopped short at the line because a small pile of shaved ice. Call it a snow job.
Getty ImagesBruce Bennett
The Kings' Mr. Overtime
Defenseman Alec Martinez scored 11 goals in the regular season, but two he got in the postseason were arguably the biggest in franchise history. He won Game 7 against the Chicago Blackhawks with an overtime goal in the Western Conference final, then did it again to clinch the Stanley Cup with a goal in the second overtime against the Rangers. Like it or not, he's the team's Mr. Overtime.