There’s just something special about the Los Angeles Kings that’s hard to put the finger on. The 2014 Stanley Cup champions overcame a deficit to win in overtime for the third time in the series, beating the New York Rangers 3-2 to claim their second title in three years after five games in a tougher than it appears run, as Alec Martinez scored the goal that gave them the championship.
The Kings come out as winners from double overtime as all the usual suspects contribute to their win, like they did all throughout the playoffs. Justin Williams opened the scoring with some nice awarness and vision to go unnoticed in the first period, once again scoring a goal in a big game to give the Kings a lead, something they’re not used to having early on in the game.
Once again there was Marian Gaborik, scoring his 14th goal of the postseason as he slipped by the Rangers defense and scored under Henriq Lundqvist to tie the game in the third period on the power play as it was all Kings in that third, with the Rangers barely hanging on with some lucky breaks and more saves from Lundqvist, although the penalty call that gave the Kings that one man advantage was highly controversial, sending Mats Zuccarello off the ice.
And then there was Alec Martinez. From the moment he scored everything turned into a blur. All the difficulties through this postseason that included playing a 26 games, including reaching game 7 in all the previous series. Despite beating the Rangers 4-1, there was only one actual game, game 3 (3-0 win) which one might say was a comfortable win. The Kings won the other three in overtime, coming back from a goal or two goals down each time.
The Rangers had their moment, coming back from one goal down to take the lead. Chris Kreider scored on the Power Play to put the Rangers in the game during the second period, and it was a wonderful shorthanded goal from Brian Boyle in a fantastic opening two periods, especially on defense, that gave the Rangers some hope that they might carry on with this series a little while longer.
In the first overtime, Jonathan Quick made one incredible save that could have made the Californian night a very different one. However, like in most of this series, Quick was in the right place at the right time with his quick reactions to deny the Rangers a win that according to the dominance of play on the ice didn’t deserve. For all of his excellent work, Quick didn’t receive a second Conn Smythe trophy.
The award went to Justin Williams, who is now a three-time Stanley Cup champion: Twice with the Kings and one in 2006 with the Hurricanes. He didn’t lead the scoring for the Kings in the playoffs, that was the exceptional Gaborik, an incredible midseason pickup. However, Williams has been there for the Kings all through the playoffs in every big game with goals and big plays, justifying his description as Mr. Clutch every time.
There were so many moments through this postseason that could have meant a much earlier end to the season for the Kings but one of the most stacked teams if not the most of them since the new CBA was signed had more than just great hockey in them to finish the job. It was poise, calm and confidence that led them forward over every obstacle and yes, even a little bit of luck, which everyone needs from time to time.