LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – The Los Angeles Kings reclaimed the Stanley Cup on Friday with a double overtime win over the New York Rangers that capped one of the most remarkable postseasons in National Hockey League history.
With both teams close to exhaustion and fans at the Staples Center roaring themselves hoarse during an epic slugfest, the Kings sealed a 4-1 series victory by winning Game Five 3-2.
The winning goal came courtesy of defenseman Alec Martinez almost 15 minutes into the second period of overtime.
The Kings struck first in the opening period through Justin Williams, who won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the Most Valuable Player in the playoffs, but the Rangers led 2-1 after the middle frame when Chris Kreider and Brian Boyle scored in a four-minute span.
Marian Gaborik, who finished as the leading scorer in the playoffs with 14 goals, tied the game in the third before the teams slugged it out in overtime. New York goalie Henrik Lundqvist made 48 saves for the Rangers while Jonathan Quick turned away 28 shots for the Kings, who claimed their second title in three years.
While the series scoreline suggested the Kings romped to victory in the final, three of their four wins were decided in overtime and they overcame incredible odds just to make the final, winning each of their first three rounds in seven games.
In the first round, they roared back from 3-0 behind to beat the San Jose Sharks. In they next round, they came from 3-2 down to defeat the Anaheim Ducks. Then, in the Western Conference Final, they won a Game Seven overtime thriller to see off the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks.
Williams had given the host Kings a 1-0 lead in the first period when he backhanded a loose puck between the legs of Lundqvist after a scramble near the New York net six minutes after the opening faceoff.
New York led 2-1 at the end of the second period after Kreider tied it at 1-1 with a powerplay goal when he sent a cross-ice pass from Ryan McDonagh into the back of the Kings net.
The Rangers, appearing in the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in two decades, grabbed the lead with a short-handed goal from Boyle with 25 seconds to play in the second period when he sent a wrist shot into the top right corner of the net.
The Kings drew even on a powerplay less than eight minutes into the third period when Gaborik fired a wrist shot underneath Lundqvist’s pads while both teams were inches away from winning the game in the first overtime period. McDonagh hit the post for the Rangers and Tyler Toffoli struck the crossbar for the Kings. Both teams hit the pipes again in the second extra period before Martinez’ found the back of the net and triggered a wild celebration in Tinseltown.
(Writing by Julian Linden; Editing by Frank Pingue)