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Kings win Stanley Cup


LOS ANGELES — Alec Martinez scored at 14:43 of double overtime Friday night as the Los Angeles Kings mounted yet another comeback to defeat the New York Rangers 3-2 and claim their second Stanley Cup in three seasons.

“I haven’t been married and I haven’t had kids but as far as I’m concerned so far this is the greatest feeling in the world,” said Martinez.

The defenceman wristed home a rebound of a Tyler Toffoli shot to seal the Cup.

The Kings squandered 3-0 series leads both times en route to hoisting the Cup. But they got the job done in five games — three wins coming via overtime — this time compared to six against New Jersey in 2012.

Los Angeles’ remarkable road to this Cup was long and tortuous. It was an edge-of-your-seat record-setting ride though all-comers that will be hard to beat.

The never-say-die Kings, who trailed by two goals four times in the first two games of the final, proved once again that the third period is their domain. They have four victories this post-season when trailing after two periods. And in mounting the latest comeback, they put an end to New York’s remarkable 5-0 record in elimination games.

“Good series, great for hockey,” Kings coach Darryl Sutter said.

The win improved the Kings’ playoff overtime record in 2014 to 5-2.

Los Angeles, which has won 17 of its last 22 home playoff games including six of the last seven, got to celebrate the championship before family and friends at a soldout Staples Center for the second time. They are the only team to clinch at home over the last seven seasons.

Kings forward Justin Williams won the Conn Smythe Trophy.

Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist kept the Rangers in the game for the second outing in a row. The elegant Swede stood on his head for much of the evening, especially when push came to shove.

“During the regular time he made some big saves. I thought in the overtime, though, that’s when we played our better hockey of the night,” said New York head coach Alain Vigneault. “Had some real good looks. Both goaltenders were outstanding.”

The contest started slowly and took its time to boil, but finished in nail-biting, adrenalin-pumping end-to-end fashion.

The game ranks as the longest game in Kings’ history, surpassing Game 5 of the 2013 Western Conference Final (91:40).

The third period was all Kings as a goal by Marian Gaborik pulled Los Angeles even at 2-2 some eight minutes in. The Kings then came at Lundqvist in waves.

Los Angeles outshot New York 12-3 in the period and 29-15 in regulation time. The shots were 42-25 for L.A. after four periods of hockey and 51-30 when the dust settled.

Overtime was a thrill ride as both teams hit the post and Los Angeles poured it on.

The Kings kept their foot on the pedal in OT, with Lundqvist scrambling to repel the raiders. The Rangers pushed back and went on the power play when Slava Voynov was called for hooking at 3:54. New York defenceman Ryan McDonagh hit the post with a blast from the blue-line.

Toffoli also rang a shot off the post, some 13 minutes in. Lundqvist stopped Williams twice at point-blank range during one sequence late in overtime as the Kings turned the screws.

Then the Rangers mounted two assaults on the L.A. goal before Chris Kreider fired wide on a semi-breakaway.

In the second overtime, Kyle Clifford was called for boarding Derek Dorsett at 5:43. The Kings somehow hung on again, as a Dan Girardi shot clipped the outside of the post and Jonathan Quick make several key saves.

Kreider and Brian Boyle scored for the Rangers in a 3:53 stretch late in the second period — the first on the power-play, the second short-handed — as New York clawed its way back to lead 2-1 after 40 minutes that saw just 12 shots on the L.A. goal.

That New York outburst silenced the sellout crowd of 18,713 at Staples Center while boding well for the Rangers, who were 11-1 when leading after two periods in the playoffs and won 39 of 43 games in that scenario including the regular season. But the Kings never go quietly.

Williams also scored for Los Angeles in a game where shots were at a premium — especially for the visitors.

With Los Angeles pressing in the third, Lundqvist made a string of saves eight minutes in to preserve the lead. The Rangers took a time out but were soon under the pump again as Mats Zuccarello was called for tripping at 7:39.

Los Angeles wasted no time taking advantage with Gaborik knocking in a rebound of a Drew Doughty wrister from the point at 7:56. It was his 14th of the playoffs — following a season in which he had 11 goals in 41 games.

The Kings have outscored their opponents 30-16 in the third period this post-season, including 3-0 in the Cup final.

Los Angeles got here the hard way, coming out Friday for the 115th game of its 2013-14 campaign, counting pre- and post-season.

It was the 26th game of their playoff run, matching the single-year league record set by Philadelphia in 1987 and Calgary in 2004.

And they had to go through a murderer’s row in the West just to get to the final after finishing 10th in the league with a 46-26-8 record and 100 points. Los Angles had to get by San Jose (111 points), Anaheim (116) and defending champion Chicago (107) in one of the most gruelling post-season routes on record.

“They (New York) know that when we play our best, we’re a tough team to play against,” Doughty said prior to Game 5.

Friday’s game was the 93rd game of the 2014 playoffs, surpassing the previous single-year record of 92 established in 1991.

It was also the 63rd post-season game for the Kings dating to 2012, tying the NHL record for most games over a three-year span (Dallas, 1998-00; Detroit: 2007-09).

It was the 25th post-season game for the Rangers, who finished 12th in the league at 45-31-6 and 96 points but still made it to their first final in 20 years by eliminating Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Montreal.

En route to the final, the Kings became the fourth team in playoffs history to overcome a 3-0 series deficit when they rallied to beat the Sharks in the first round. And they are the first team to play — and win — three Game 7s on the road in a single post-season.

Los Angeles went 7-0 in elimination games along the way. Only the 1975 Islanders won more (eight).

Amazingly Los Angeles did not hold a lead in three of the first four games of the 2014 final. The Kings led for just 14.6 per cent of the first four games — a 40:01 stretch that was all in Game 3.

The Kings trailed 2-0 the first two games of the series but rallied both times to win in OT.

The Rangers came into Friday’s game on the verge of elimination, despite having led for 37.3 per cent (102:38 minutes) in the first four games.

But New York has been hard to finish off in the post-season.

Going into Friday, the Rangers were 5-0 when facing elimination. Lundqvist led the way in such games with a 1.00 goals-against average and .971 save percentage.

The Rangers’ record in elimination matches was 11-2 dating back to 2012. And New York was 8-0 at home with its back against the wall dating back to 2008.

The Rangers started slowly Friday, not helped by an early hooking call to Rick Nash in the offensive zone.

They hadn’t got a shot on target by the time the Kings went ahead at 6:04, with Williams scoring on a deft backhand as linemates Jarret Stoll and Dwight King poked away at Lundqvist after a shot from the point by Willie Mitchell. It was Williams’ ninth of the playoffs.

It took New York almost eight minutes to record a shot on goal. That followed a third period in Game 4 in which they only managed one shot.

Midway through the period, the Rangers began to push back, cycling the puck in the L.A. end and causing some anxious moments. Quick needed two attempts to corral Derek Stepan’s shot on the rush with a little more than four minutes remaining in the period.

Rangers forward Benoit Pouliot was penalized late in the period for goalie interference, when he knocked Quick’s mask off after some minor contact with a defenceman.

New York, outshot 6-0 to start the game, cut the shots deficit to 7-6 at the end of the first period. Another six Ranger shots missed the target.

Kings captain Dustin Brown, who came into the game with a playoff-leading 119 hits, banged three more bodies in the period.

The Rangers caused some problems with their speed and cycle game early in the second but the Kings defence managed to clear the puck before the damage was done. At the other end, Kings centre Anze Kopitar put Dominic Moore on his butt with a well-placed shove that got the crowd going.

It took the Kings some 27 minutes to crack double digits in shots. New York, frustrated for stretches by the L.A. forecheck, was stuck at seven.

Clifford had several good chances for the Kings, who were competing for the puck like a junkyard dog after a bone. Quick, meanwhile, stopped Boyle after a wild scramble.

The New York power play, 1-for-19 in the final up until then, finally clicked at 15:37 of the second period as Kreider tipped in a McDonagh feed from the faceoff circle to tie it at 1-1. McDonagh threaded the pass through three Kings to set up the goal, which came on the Rangers’ 11th shot of the night.

McDonagh, who turned 25 Friday, becomes the first player to record a point on his birthday in the Cup final since Jari Kurri did it in 1990 for the Oilers.

Seconds later Clifford drove at goal, forcing Lundqvist to stand his ground. The Swede had to contend with Mike Richards hacking at him for the rebound.

Boyle then scored shorthanded to give the Rangers a 2-1 lead at 19:30. The big man deftly roofed the puck after a nice curl-and-drag past Doughty, with New York’s Moore in the penalty box for hooking. The speedy Carl Hagelin triggered the play, beating Voynov to the puck, as Boyle notched his third of the post-season.

The Rangers’ third short-handed goal of the playoffs had Moore celebrating in the box.

The Kings ranked 26th in the league in average goals per game during the regular season, averaging 2.42 a game. It helped that they led the league with just 2.05 goals against per game.

They found their scoring touch in the playoffs, leading all teams with an average of 3.40 goals a game going into Friday.

NOTES — Going into play Friday, teams leading the Cup final 3-0 had won the series 25 of 26 times (96.2 per cent) since the best-of-seven format was instituted in 1939. The only club to overcome a 3-0 series deficit to win the Cup was the 1942 Maple Leafs (against Detroit) ... It was the 26th overtime game of the playoffs, tied for the third-highest total in one year (the record of 28 was set in 1993).

 
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