The Los Angeles Kings were crowned Western Conference champions and entered the 2014 Stanley Cup Final against the New York Rangers after they beat the Chicago Blackhawks 5-4 in overtime on June 1.
The Los Angeles Kings beat the Chicago Blackhawks 5-4 in overtime on June 1 to enter the 2014 Stanley Cup Final.
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Kings defenseman Alec Martinez's overtime goal sent the Kings to their second Stanley Cup Final in the last three years, per Alex Kinkopf of the team's official website:
"After scrapping their way out of an early hole Sunday evening at the United Center, the Kings went toe-to-toe with Chicago until Alec Martinez ended the affair in overtime, sending the Kings to the Stanley Cup Final for the second time in three seasons.
"Sunday's win was a compact look at the Kings' postseason, where they've battled back from numerous odds, banking on clutch game scoring, and never breaking down when behind. It's an ode to not just the skill level of this group, but their outstanding mental stability.
"This is a special group; and it takes one to eliminate the Chicago Blackhawks.
"Jeff Carter and Justin Williams scored 51 seconds apart in the first period to cancel out the Blackhawks' two goals they scored in the opening minutes of play. Carter and Williams' tallies were followed up by a goal from Chicago's Patrick Sharp, who got a little help from a wacky bounce to beat Jonathan Quick.
"The Kings, after one, were down 3-2.
"Midway through the second, Tyler Toffoli slammed home the Kings' third goal of the evening, hopping on a puck that sat unaccounted for after Matt Greene's slap shot from the point deflected off traffic in front of Corey Crawford's net. Toffoli, with great hands, buried the puck -- which was on edge, in a swift one-time motion.
"Toffoli's goal knotted the score at 3-3, but the Kings would then take a string of penalties, allowing Chicago's power play to take action. On their fifth power play of the night, the Blackhawks regained the lead on Patrick Sharp's goal with 1:35 to play in the middle frame.
"It wasn't the best of periods for the Kings, who were outshot 16-4 and trapped in their own zone for the majority of the period as their penalty kill was put to constant work.
"Entering the third period down 4-3, there was no sudden sense of urgency in the Kings' play. They were rather conservative, maintaing disciplined defensive play, knowing that holding their own at their own end would eventually evolve into an opportunity in Chicago's zone.
"Brown was reading the movement of Marian Gaborik, who was steadfast on crashing Corey Crawford's net. Crawford couldn't handle Brown's shot cleanly and Gaborik got a stick on the rebound, and chipped the puck off of and past Chicago's goaltender to score the Kings' fourth goal of the evening.
"Gaborik's goal tied the game at 4-4 with 7:17 to play in regulation time."
The Los Angeles Times' Lance Pugmire and Lisa Dillman then describe the pivotal moment in overtime which catapulted the Kings to another Stanley Cup Final stint.
"Kings defenseman Alec Martinez shot inside the blue line off a pass from Justin Williams -- who's now 7-0 in Game 7s -- and the puck deflected off Blackhawks defenseman Nick Leddy and into the goal past teammate Jarret Stoll and Chicago goalie Corey Crawford at 5:47 of overtime."
Los Angeles defenseman Drew Doughty spoke about his team's resiliency after the win over Chicago, per NHL.com senior managing editor Shawn P. Roarke.
"We never thought weren't going to do it. Two of their goals were pretty lucky, one from behind the goalie and the chip shot or whatever that was.
"We weren't going to let those kinds of goals defeat us. We knew that we were going to get them back, get some dirty goals from crashing the net. That's how we basically won the game; we never gave up.
"We believe we were a better team than they were this year. Last year I felt like their team was a little bit better, but this year we felt like we were the better team.
"We were just never going to let that go away; we were always going to believe that we could come back, that we could win."
Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville told The Chicago Tribune's Chris Kuc in the aftermath of the crushing loss that he was still proud of his team, despite the outcome.
"We were pretty close to getting to the Big Dance. You look at how close we were, how competitive it was. It's a tough league. It's a tough thing to do to win the Cup.
"I couldn't be prouder of our guys the way we competed in some tough situations down 3-1 and one shot away from going and trying to do it again.
"I've lost some tough games, but nothing like tonight."
Game 1 of the 2014 Stanley Cup Final will be on June 4 at 8:00 p.m. EST at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Calif.
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