The Los Angeles Kings finished an impressive run to their first ever NHL title with a 6-1 win over the New Jersey Devils in Game 6 of the Cup final Monday.
The Devils had the momentum going into Game 6 after winning two straight games, but ran into penalty trouble and the Kings made them pay. Los Angeles scored three times on a five-minute power play in the first period and the game was essentially over.
"These guys, you know what, since March 1, they've lost about six games," Kings coach Darryl Sutter said. "They've taken a lot of public negativity towards them. Look what they've just done. Pretty awesome. Tells you what type of players they are."
In the capital of the world's entertainment industry, the Kings' ascent to hockey supremacy read like a movie script for a classic underdog story. They became the first eighth seed to ever hoist the iconic trophy over their heads.
Barely sneaking into the playoffs and considered an afterthought by many, the Kings surprised almost everyone by beating the heavily favoured Vancouver Canucks in just five games in the first round. The top-ranked Canucks won the Presidents' Trophy as the NHL's top team in the regular season and made it to the Cup final last season.
The Kings quickly showed they weren't a one-hit wonder. They swept the St. Louis Blues — the second-ranked team in the Western Conference — in the second round before dispatching the Phoenix Coyotes in five games in the conference final.
The Devils gave the Kings their toughest challenge, extending the championship series to six games after losing the first three. But the Kings' lopsided win in Game 6 was the exclamation point on a dominating 16-4 run through the playoffs. L.A. won a record 10 straight playoff games on the road before finally losing away from Staples Centre in Game 5 of the final.
Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick won the Conn Smythe trophy as the most valuable player in the playoffs, while forwards Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown led the way offensively with 20 points each.
Quick wasn't tested much in Game 6, which brought it's own set of challenges for the goaltender.
"As much as you keep pushing it out of your mind, it will creep back in," he said. "Especially you get that four-goal lead, you know, it's hard for it not to creep into your head a little bit.
"But you just keep reminding yourself how dangerous of a team they are. The second you become relaxed, get your mind off what you're supposed to be doing, that's when they're going to take advantage of you. You keep telling yourself to work."
This is the second championship team from Southern California — the Ducks from nearby Anaheim won it all in 2007 — but it's the first title for the club from Los Angeles and the Kings had a little bit of star power in their corner on Monday night. Celebrities in attendance included actors Matthew Perry and James Gandolfini, "Seinfeld" co-creator Larry David and soccer superstar David Beckham.
The Stanley Cup win should boost the Kings' profile in a city where baseball and basketball rule.
"It's a hockey town now!" said Kings fan Kate Byrne Haltom as fans partied in the streets after the game.