The Los Angeles Kings saved their ultimate climactic finish for the grand finale as they seized the Stanley Cup with the signature dramatic flair that characterised their latest championship run.
With the pressure mounting, their home fans buzzing, and the game clock ticking away, Alec Martinez slapped in the cup-clinching goal in double overtime in a 3-2 win that provided the perfect ending to a drama-filled Los Angeles post-season.
Los Angeles needed three Game Seven victories just to reach the championship series and once they did, they saved plenty of style points for the final.
Los Angeles faced a 2-1 deficit in the third period before tying it on Marian Gaborik’s goal.
The 32-year-old Gaborik was acquired by the Kings in a trade with Columbus back in March, and he turned out to be a steal, scoring 14 playoff goals to lead the NHL.
While his scoring presence boosted Los Angeles, the Kings’ magic also seemed to rub off on him.
When I got here I knew I'd get a crack at the Stanley Cup. This is an unbelievable team with a lot of character.
“When I got here I knew I’d get a crack at the Stanley Cup,” said Gaborik, who was playing in his first ever Cup final. “This is an unbelievable team with a lot of character.”
Los Angeles stared defeat in the face on several occasions in the extra session where both teams clanged shots off the post and each goaltender performed acrobatics.
Battle of goalkeepers
New York’s Henrik Lundqvist valiantly made 48 saves in defeat, though it was Jonathan Quick (28 saves) who came out on top.
Just as the Los Angeles Staples Center crowd was chanting “We want the Cup”, the Kings fired a shot on goal that was cleaned up by Martinez.
The King’s defence held New York scoreless for the final 55:13 minutes of the contest, preserving the night with hustle plays like Slava Voynov’s deflection on New York forward Rick Nash’s open shot midway through the second overtime.
No team has a repeated as Stanley Cup champions since the Detroit Red Wings in 1998, but the Kings have to be considered a team that could join that group.
The Kings’ first Stanley Cup run, in 2012, was built on dominance – they finished 16-4 for the entire playoffs – but their latest was all about dramatic endings.