Hopes of a repeat fade as Kings are eliminated

When Darryl Sutter met with the media prior to Game 5, the coach made it clear that a team can’t give up three goals to the Chicago Blackhawks and
expect to win.

Considering his squad was
averaging just two goals a game heading into Game 5, I would understand his
concern.

Falling behind early in the first six minutes of the game left
the Kings with little margin for error and in the end, Patrick Kane was too
much to handle for the Los Angeles Kings.

Kane’s third goal of the game on a slick pass from Jonathan
Toews at 11:40 of the second overtime spoiled an amazing Kings comeback as the
Blackhawks stamped their ticket to the Stanley Cup Finals with a 4-3 double overtime
victory.

“I knew it was coming as soon as Toews had the puck,” Kane
told NBC Sports.

“We got beat in the conference final by the best team in the
conference at the end of the day,” said Kings coach Darryl Sutter. “We are
disappointed to lose to Chicago but not disappointed in how we played.”

The Kings erased an early 2-0 deficit with goals from Dwight
King and Anze Kopitar, but Patrick Kane’s second of the night with just over
three minutes remaining in regulation giving the Blackhawks a 3-2 lead.

The Kings’ Justin Williams appeared to be tripped
on the play that led to the goal and things looked rather bleak for the
defending Stanley Cup Champions. Then
with just 9.4 seconds left, Mike Richards tied the game and hope was still
alive.

“I thought I got taken down,” Williams told Kings
Live. “And they scored right after that, so that was very emotional. I was
extremely happy we got a chance in overtime. Maybe it was the hockey gods
making up for it. But in the end, they scored the big goal and we couldn’t do
it.”

The Kings were trying to become the first team since the
1997-98 Detroit Red Wings to win back-to-back Stanley Cups. In the end, their
inability to win on the road (1-8 in the playoffs) was a contributing factor in
not getting the opportunity to defend their title as champions.

“We couldn’t find a way to win a road game,” said Jarret
Stoll. “We wanted to play until the end of June. You can’t be happy with losing. You never are. Doesn’t matter if
it is the Western Conference Finals or the Stanley Cup Finals or not even
making the playoffs.  It’s still an empty
feeling.”

“It sucks, there is no doubt about it,” said Drew Doughty. “It’s frustrating that we lost.  We wanted to get back to the Stanley Cup
Finals and we wanted to win again. Everyone wanted it so bad. To not
be successful is tough to take.”

Give credit to the Blackhawks, who were the President
Trophy winners (best record during the regular season) and were the
better team in the series. That being
said, the extent of the
injuries that hampered the play of Dustin Brown, Kopitar and Williams should be revealed in the coming days.

Brown reportedly had ligament damage in his knee while
Williams was trying to play through a separated shoulder.

“We had three or four guys that were game time decisions
since decisions after Game 6 in San Jose,” Sutter added. “It tells
you how tough it is to win. You have to
stay healthy with your top guys, close to 100 percent and we weren’t.”

Notwithstanding, the Kings can hold their heads up high. They were one of only two teams who made it
to the playoffs last year to advance past the opening round of the playoffs
this year and were the only team from last year to return to the conference finals this season.

While there may be some offseason retooling, the Los
Angeles Kings have shown they are more than a one-year success story.