Jeff Carter

Crown ’em again: Kings win second Stanley Cup in three years

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LOS ANGELES — For the second time in three years, the Los Angeles Kings are Stanley Cup champions.

The Kings beat the New York Rangers, 3-2, tonight in a wildly entertaining, painfully tense Game 5 at Staples Center that went to double overtime and finally ended on an Alec Martinez goal after 94:43 of total action.

Martinez buried a rebound that Henrik Lundqvist put right on the defenseman’s stick off a Tyler Toffoli shot.

Unlike the 2012 Kings who romped to their first Stanley Cup in franchise history while losing just four times, it took the 2014 version 26 games to get it done, tying them with the 1987 Flyers and 2004 Flames for the most contests in one postseason. Along the way, the Kings erased a 3-0 series deficit versus the San Jose Sharks, took out their crosstown rivals from Anaheim after trailing 3-2, and eliminated the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks in a memorable seven-game series that went to overtime in the decider.

Tonight’s game could’ve ended earlier, and it could’ve gone either way. In the first overtime, Ryan McDonagh hit the post squarely on a New York power play. Toffoli hit the cross bar a little later on. Chris Kreider had a breakaway that Jonathan Quick stopped. Justin Williams, the Conn Smythe Trophy winner, had chances. So did Jeff Carter. And Rick Nash. And others.

In the second overtime, the Rangers hit the post again when Mats Zuccarello tipped a Dan Girardi point shot with Kyle Clifford in the box for boarding Derek Dorsett. Not long after, Nash was staring at an empty net, but his shot tipped off Slava Voynov’s stick.

Lundqvist was brilliant once again for the Rangers, stopping 48 shots. He entered tonight’s must-win with a 1.00 goals-against average and .971 save percentage in the five elimination contests the Rangers had played this postseason, allowing just one goal in each game. He was the major reason the Kings didn’t end things in Game 4. But he couldn’t rescue his team again tonight.

The Kings got the start they’d been looking for, as Williams opened the scoring at 6:04 of the first period, before the Rangers had even managed their first shot on goal. Williams, renowned for scoring big goals in the playoffs, slid a loose puck past Lundqvist on a play that started with a Willie Mitchell point shot. Dwight King and Jarret Stoll also had rebound chances in front, drawing three Rangers to two Kings, before Williams, left open, pounced.

The Rangers may not have started well, but they fought back valiantly in the second period, scoring two late goals that left the crowd in a temporary state of shock.

First came Kreider on the power play, one-timing a flawless pass from McDonagh to tie it at 15:37. The goal was just the second power-play marker of the series for the Rangers, who had gone 1-for-19 with the man advantage before Kreider scored.

Then, with the Kings on the power play, speedy forward Carl Hagelin beat Voynov to a loose puck along the boards in the neutral zone. Hagelin got it to big Brian Boyle, who beat a weary Drew Doughty wide, before firing a perfect shot over Quick’s left shoulder to put the Rangers up 2-1 with 30 seconds left in the middle frame.

All of a sudden, a trip back to Madison Square Garden for Game 6 became a very real possibility.

The Kings started the third period uncertainly; however, a controversial tripping penalty to Zuccarello came at 7:39, opening the door for Marian Gaborik to poke a rebound between Lundqvist’s legs at 7:56, after the Rangers’ star goalie failed to control a point shot from Doughty.

Los Angeles nearly scored again late in the third – Carter ripped one high from the slot with five minutes left, and Jake Muzzin had a one-timer go wide with mere seconds remaining – but regulation time expired with the score tied, bringing on overtime for the third time in the series.

The Kings once again hoisted the Cup at home, just as they did in 2012. The five other championships won in the last seven years were clinched by road teams.

For the Rangers, there’s bitter disappointment after coming so very close to forcing Game 6 Monday at Madison Square Garden, where the Rangers would have had a chance to force an anything-can-happen Game 7 back in Los Angeles.

Some pre-game reading for stats nerds

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Just finished reading this piece of statistical analysis on the Stanley Cup Final from the Globe and Mail’s James Mirtle. It’s pretty revealing, so I thought I’d pass it along as the start of Game 5 approaches.

Not that it’s news that Martin St. Louis, Brad Richards and Dan Girardi aren’t having their best series, but the struggles of the high-priced New York veterans are especially pronounced in the possession stats.

Meanwhile, the Kings’ trio of Jeff Carter, Tyler Toffoli, and Tanner Pearson — all three under the age of 30 — has been absolutely dominant up front for Los Angeles.

There’s more info in there, so give it a read.

Related: Brad Richards knows he hasn’t been good enough

Get your game notes: Rangers at Kings

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Tonight on NBC, it’s the Los Angeles Kings hosting the New York Rangers at 8 p.m. ET in the fifth game of the 2014 Stanley Cup Final. Following are some game notes, as compiled by the NHL on NBC research team:

• Tonight marks the 93rd game of the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs, the most games in NHL history in one playoff year. The Kings are playing in their 26th game, tying them with the 1987 Flyers and 2004 Flames (led by current L.A. head coach Darryl Sutter) for the most by one team in a playoff year. The Flyers and Flames both lost in Game 7s of the Stanley Cup Final. The most games that a Stanley Cup champion has played is 25, by the 2006 Hurricanes (with current L.A. winger Justin Williams) and 2011 Bruins.

• Earlier this series, the Kings became the 27th team to take a 3-0 series lead in the Stanley Cup Final since it went to best-of-seven in 1939. By winning Game 4, the Rangers became only the seventh of those 27 teams to avoid a four-game sweep. Tonight, they will try to become the fourth team to extend a series to a Game 6 after falling behind 3-0 (1942 Maple Leafs vs. DET – won in 7; 1945 Red Wings vs. TOR – lost in 7; 2012 Devils vs. LA – lost in 6).

• Kings forwards Dustin Brown, Jeff Carter, Dwight King, Anze Kopitar, Trevor Lewis and Justin Williams, defensemen Drew Doughty and Slava Voynov, and goaltender Jonathan Quick are expected to play in their 64th postseason games since the beginning of the 2012 playoffs. If they play, they will all set a new NHL record for the most playoff games played in a three-year span.

• Doughty, who leads the playoffs in total ice time (706:12) and shifts (867) this postseason, has amassed 1,732 minutes, 19 seconds of ice time in the last three postseasons (63 games), the most TOI by any player in a three-year span since it was first tracked by the NHL in the 1998-99 season. Elias Sports Bureau

• Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist made 40 saves as he and his teammates held the Kings to one goal (Dustin Brown) in Game 4. His 40 saves were the most in a regulation-time, elimination-avoiding victory in a Stanley Cup Final game since the NHL began officially tracking shots in the 1958-59 season. In five games when facing elimination this postseason, Lundqvist is 5-0 with a 1.00 GAA and .971 save%, while the Rangers skaters in front of him have scored a combined 14 goals. Elias Sports Bureau

• The Rangers were out-shot 41-19 in Game 4, including 15-1 in the third period. The -22 shots-on-goal margin was the largest in NHL history by any winning team in a Stanley Cup Final game that did not require overtime. The previous mark was actually set in Game 3 of this series, when the Kings were out-shot 32-15 (-17 margin), but won 3-0.

• In Game 4, the Kings were held below three goals for only the sixth time in 25 games this postseason (and the first time since they scored one goal in Game 1 of the Western Conference Final vs. Chicago). The Kings, who lead the playoffs in goals (85) and goals/game (3.40) and games with 3+ goals (19), could become the first team in NHL history to score 3+ goals in 20 games in one playoff year.

• The Rangers have been outscored 2-0 by the Kings in third periods this series. In the 54 previous Stanley Cup Final series that went five or more games since 1939, only two teams went the entire series without a goal in a certain regulation period: the 1939 Maple Leafs were outscored by a combined 3-0 in second periods of their five-game series loss to Boston, and the 2011 Canucks (coached by current coach Alain Vigneault) were outscored by a combined 10-0 in second periods of their seven-game series loss to Boston. Elias Sports Bureau

Video: Stralman clears sure goal away just in time

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The New York Rangers have been exasperated about their lack of luck against the Los Angeles Kings in the 2014 Stanley Cup Final. Maybe those bounces are just coming late?

After falling behind 1-0, the Kings looked primed to erase a deficit with dizzying speed once again. It looked like Jeff Carter would score a Kings power-play tally, yet Anton Stralman managed to clear the puck away just before it completely crossed the goal line:

You can’t get closer than that, can you?

source:

Surrounded by champions, rookie Toffoli pines for Cup

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Given that Los Angeles won the Stanley Cup in 2012, most of the current Kings can lean on their past experiences to stay level-headed just one win away from another championship.

Rookie Tyler Toffoli doesn’t have that luxury. This is all new to the 22-year-old forward and while that hasn’t stopped him from contributing throughout the postseason, he can’t help but be giddy this close to fulfilling his dreams.

“I fell asleep at 9 [on Tuesday night], woke up at 12 and then didn’t fall back asleep ’til about 3,” Toffoli said, per NHL.com. “I was excited. There was a lot of thoughts going through my mind. But today, it’s all business. You’ve got to be focused and ready for the big task at hand.”

Toffoli admitted that he’s leaning on those that have been in this situation before to help him keep his nerves in check. It should help that when he steps onto the ice tonight, it will often be with 29-year-old Jeff Carter.

Toffoli probably won’t need to be the hero for the Kings tonight, but he’s already done more than they likely hoped for going into the playoffs. If he raises the Cup, it will be because he earned the right.