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Resilient Kings Win Second Cup

By defeating the New York Rangers in Game 5 on Friday, the Los Angeles Kings earned a second Stanley Cup in three years.

By defeating the New York Rangers in Game 5 on Friday, the Los Angeles Kings earned a second Stanley Cup in three years.

For the second time in three years the Los Angeles Kings are Stanley Cup champions.

Playing in front of a jam-packed home crowd at Staples Center on Friday night, the Kings defeated the New York Rangers in double overtime of a decisive Game 5, earning the privilege to hoist Lord Stanley’s giant cup aloft.

As has been the case for the entire series, there was toing and froing between the two sides right until the very end.

Los Angeles took a first period lead on Justin Williams’ goal before New York replied with a brace of goals in the second. Chris Kreider scored for the Blueshirts on the power play while Brian Boyle found the net in shorthanded fashion.

In the third, the Kings would once more come from behind – which has very much been the theme of these playoffs – to tie the game on Marian Gaborik’s effort. The power play goal marked Gaborik’s NHL-best 14th postseason goal.

The Rangers struggled to put shots on goal during regulation time, finding themselves outshot by the Kings to the tune of 29-15.

Things got a little closer in a pair of overtime sessions as the two sides looked to edge out the victory. The shot tally in the extra frames was 22-15 in favor of the Kings.

After a scoreless 20 minutes, double overtime came and nearly went, halted in its tracks finally by Alec Martinez’s deflected shot at 14:43. The puck found its way past Henrik Lundqvist to give the Kings the 3-2 victory.

With the goal, the Kings erupted with jubilation while the Rangers – who knew they faced an almost impossible task when they trailed 3-0 in the series – slumped and were forced to imagine what could have been.

While the Rangers, finalists for the first time in 20 years, were left heartbroken, there was no denying that this 1 hour 34 minute epic proved to be a thrilling end to a thrilling postseason.

The victory, which came following the longest game in Kings’ franchise history, put the finishing touches to a remarkable postseason – both for team and league – that must go down in history as one of the very best.

It took a total of 93 games – from a possible 105 – to decide this year’s champion, with the Kings playing in 26 of a possible 28 games to emerge victorious. It also came after a Stanley Cup Finals matchup that few would have expected.

As recently as February 7, bettors could have got odds of 16/1 for the Kings winning the Stanley Cup, a figure that saw six other sides preferred. Even as the postseason began, Darryl Sutter’s side was considered a 10/1 long shot.

The Rangers meanwhile began the year with 20/1 odds to lift the cup, odds that stretched as far 33/1 during November and December. The Blueshirts were 20/1 outsiders to win the cup when the playoffs begun, with nine teams preferred.

So with the underdogs advancing, and in true headline-making fashion, the Stanley Cup became an event in of itself. Tight games, continued comebacks, and two passionate cities driving their teams to victory. Perhaps the only downside to Friday’s game, at least as far as neutral observers are concerned, is that we were denied a sixth and seventh game of the series.

For the city of Los Angeles and its sporting fans, the Kings’ victory comes as a welcome relief for those that had to endure a lifeless season from the Los Angeles Lakers and the controversy surrounding outgoing Los Angeles Clippers’ owner Donald Sterling. The City of Angels will be hoping from more of the same from the Los Angeles Dodgers and/or Los Angeles Angels when October rolls around.

For fans in New York, the loss means the Rangers will begin the 2014-15 campaign in October searching for a first cup win in 21 years. The Manhattan side, which has had its ups and downs over those two decades, will likely be a contender by the time the season rolls around – we’ll have updated futures as soon as they’re available – but was this as close as the current side will get?

For now though, the focus is on the black and silver side from Los Angeles. With two cups in three years, could we be witnessing the start of a new hockey dynasty? Fervent hockey fans in Southern California certainly think so. A third title in four years – and becoming the first team to repeat since the Detroit Red Wings in 1997 and 1998 – would go a long way to cementing that status. But now we’re just getting ahead of ourselves.


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