LOS ANGELES -- And what a way to do it. In one of the most breathtaking, heart-pounding stretches of playoff hockey this spring (maybe ever), the Kings finally ended it in double overtime on Alec Martinez’s Cup-clinching goal and knocked off the New York Rangers 3-2 in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup finals to win the club’s second championship in three years.
The resilient Kings, who rallied back from 2-0 holes in both Games 1 and 2, erased a 2-1 deficit in the third period with ex-Ranger Marian Gaborik’s huge game-tying goal at 7:56 of the third period before Martinez won the game with his Cup-clinching goal with 5:17 to play in the second overtime period. The first overtime period didn’t lack for drama either, with both teams just inches away from ending it on their respective ends. Ryan McDonagh hit a post. Tyler Toffoli hit a crossbar. There was no time to even breathe.
The Kings can now exhale and soak in the elation emanating from a building just buzzing with excitement. Meanwhile, the Rangers must make a cross-country trip utterly heartbroken.
The Rangers' magical postseason run came to an abrupt end with Martinez’s winner, a gut-wrenching goal that the Blueshirts will surely replay in their minds over and over this summer.
The Rangers were able to avoid being swept on home ice with a 2-1 win in Game 4 at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night. But they couldn’t stop a determined Kings squad in their own building.
It’s going to be a long summer for the Rangers. But for the Kings, this party is just getting started.
Payback time: Marian Gaborik's stunning spring continued Friday night when the ex-Ranger notched the tying goal against his former team in the third period. With Mats Zuccarello in the box for tripping, Gaborik scored just 17 seconds into the power play to knot the score at 2 at 7:56 of the final frame. The trade-deadline acquisition, who was moved by the Rangers at the deadline of the previous season, leads the NHL with 14 playoff goals. That sort of production is not lost on Rangers fans, especially considering Rick Nash was the marquee player brought in to provide the sort of game-breaking ability the club felt Gaborik lacked. Nash has scored only three playoff goals this postseason and has been held off the scoresheet for six straight games, leading some to wonder if he isn’t long for Broadway as well.
Power surge: In the hours before Game 5, coach Alain Vigneault was asked about any personnel changes he planned to make for the team’s power-play. But despite the fact that the Rangers entered the game 1-for-17 on the man-advantage in the first four games of the series, he expressed confidence in the group. That conviction paid dividends in the second period, when a pretty passing sequence allowed Chris Kreider an easy goal in front to tie the game 1-1 at 15:37.
Special teams edge: The Rangers’ special teams delivered another score in the second period, with Brian Boyle’s terrific shorthanded goal that gave the Blueshirts a 2-1 lead with less than 30 seconds left in the period. Carl Hagelin made a terrific hustle play to chase down the puck and dish to Boyle, who sniped a shot into the far corner for his third goal of the playoffs. Both Hagelin and Boyle have been two of the Rangers’ best penalty-killers this spring. The hulking, 6-foot-7, 244-pound Boyle is set to become an unrestricted free agent this July, and he’s already making a strong case for himself, should the Rangers fail to re-sign him. The gritty forward always seems to pick up his game during the postseason, and this spring has been no different.
Mr. Game 7: Adding to his laundry list of timely goals for the Kings, winger Justin Williams scored another clutch goal in Game 5 for Los Angeles and got the club on the board at 6:04 of the first period. The 32-year-old Cobourg, Ontario, native buried a rebound in the opening frame to ignite the crowd at Staples Center. Williams has been absolutely essential to the Kings’ success this spring, with nine goals and 25 points in 26 playoff games and 10 points (three goals, seven assists) in the past seven games.