It took two overtimes, but it was well worth the wait. The Los Angeles Kings won their second Stanley Cup in three years with a 3-2 double-overtime win over the New York Rangers in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final Friday night at the Staples Center.
Alec Martinez, who scored the winner in the Western Conference Final, was in the right place at the right time to fire home the rebound off Tyler Toffoli's missed shot.
The Kings posted an Instagram video of the celebrations immediately following Martinez's goal.
Justin Williams, who scored a goal Friday and had seven points in the series, was named the Conn Smythe winner.
This was the kind of game you never wanted to end.
The overtime periods exemplified everything that is great about playoff hockey. The action was end to end, featuring breathless saves, shots off the post and frenetic calls from NBC's Doc Emrick.
If anything, Emrick was arguably the biggest star of the game. Bleacher Report's Will Carroll wondered if he would even be able to finish the game if the overtimes went on any longer:
Emrick's going to have no voice left from all these near misses if someone doesn't sneak one by soon.— Will Carroll (@injuryexpert) June 14, 2014
Since it was sudden-death overtime in a game that could decide the Stanley Cup, every single moment took on added importance. Every pass was meaningful. Every penalty could've been devastating. Every shot carried with it either hope or despair of an entire fanbase.
In the second OT, Game 5 officially became the longest game in Kings history, per the team's Twitter account:
Officially the longest game in #LAKings history.— LA Kings (@LAKings) June 14, 2014
This isn't the first time that many of these Kings players had the experience of being up 3-0 in a Stanley Cup Final series. Back in 2012, L.A. jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead on the New Jersey Devils before dropping Games 4 and 5. The Kings then wrapped up the title in Game 6.
"I guess practice makes perfect," Kings center Mike Richards said of the team's preparations this year, per the Associated Press. "I think everyone is more equipped now, or more ready for it, more aware of what the distractions are and how they can present themselves, and what you need to do to push them away."
Richards and his teammates knew how much was on the line, and they weren't going to let the Rangers hang around any longer than necessary.
Williams opened the scoring six minutes and four seconds into the game. Willie Mitchell had his shot saved by Henrik Lundqvist, but that led to a scramble in front of the goal. Dwight King's rebound went begging, but Williams was there to finish.
Williams has been Johnny-on-the-spot throughout the postseason. The Hockey News' Adam Proteau joked that kind of consistency would serve him well in a couple of other fields:
When doesn't Justin Williams deliver in the clutch? Let's clone him and create an army of punctual cable TV & telephone repair technicians.— Adam Proteau (@Proteautype) June 14, 2014
Bruce Arthur of the Toronto Star quipped Williams might eventually set his mind to some less mentally taxing tasks:
Justin Williams will eventually tire of scoring big goals and turn his focus to something easier, like flying helicopters one-handed— Bruce Arthur (@bruce_arthur) June 14, 2014
With the way that most of the second period unfolded, you wondered if one goal would be enough to win the Kings the Stanley Cup. Like in Game 3, the Rangers weren't getting many shots, and what shots they did get, Jonathan Quick was there to stop.
Then King gave away a needless high-sticking penalty at 14:07 of the second period.
Before that penalty, New York had failed to score on their last 13 power-play opportunities. That ended on Friday night.
Rangers coach Alain Vigneault drew up the perfect play. Chris Kreider shielded Quick as the Rangers moved the puck around and as Quick shifted to his left to defend a possible shot from McDonagh, Kreider peeled off. McDonagh found him with a pass, and it was an easy finish to tie the game at 1-1.
A little less than four minutes later, Brian Boyle put New York ahead, 2-1, with a shorthanded goal. Carl Hagelin did a great job of winning the puck and laying it off to Boyle. Since the Kings were chasing a power-play goal, they left some space in the defense, which allowed Boyle to pick out the perfect shot.
That was the Rangers' third shorthanded goal of the postseason, which is tied for most in the playoffs, per NHL Public Relations:
After watching their last power play go to waste, the Kings were not going to let it happen again.
Mats Zuccarello was whistled at 7:39 of the third period for tripping Jake Muzzin. The replays showed Muzzin leaving his leg out in order to draw the tripping. He then fell dramatically to the ice. Maybe he's just auditioning for the Brazilian soccer team.
Scouting the Refs thought that the referee might have made the wrong call:
Ref Brad Watson calls Zuccarello for tripping. Looked like Muzzin tripped Zucc, who may have had a break. Might want that one back.— Scouting The Refs (@ScoutingTheRefs) June 14, 2014
If the Rangers felt wronged before, their anger was likely boiling over after Marian Gaborik scored 17 seconds after the penalty call to tie the game.
Jeff Carter did a great job of keeping the play alive by grabbing the puck out of the air. He passed to Drew Doughty and although his shot was saved by Lundqvist, Gaborik reacted quickly to poke the rebound home underneath the pads of the netminder.
That was Gaborik's 14th goal of this year's Stanley Cup playoffs, which put him at the top of the scoring chart, per ESPN Stats and Info:
Marian Gaborik: 14th goal of playoffs, most in NHL this postseason— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 14, 2014
After that goal, Los Angeles was clearly the side in the ascendancy. USA Today's Dan Wolken suggested the Rangers would have a hard time even pushing the game into overtime:
It will be a minor miracle for the Rangers get this to overtime— Dan Wolken (@DanWolken) June 14, 2014
However, the Rangers, and particularly Lundqvist held strong for as long as they could. They simply ran out of gas at the end.
This was no doubt a deserved title for the Kings. They ran the gauntlet in the previous three rounds, with each series going to seven games, including coming back from a 3-0 deficit against the San Jose Sharks in the first round.
Perhaps now the talk can begin of a possible dynasty in the making in Los Angeles. Two titles in three years is impressive in any sport. L.A. is certainly making the case that it's one of the most dominant sports franchises going today.