<![CDATA[NBC Southern California - ]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbclosangeles.com/feature/la-kings-quest-4-the-cup http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/NBC4_40x125.png NBC Southern California http://www.nbclosangeles.com en-us Mon, 01 Sep 2014 14:08:04 -0700 Mon, 01 Sep 2014 14:08:04 -0700 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[LA Mayor on Dropping F-Bomb: "I Got a Little Carried Away"]]> Wed, 18 Jun 2014 05:51:46 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/197*120/garcetti9.JPG

A day after he dropped the F-bomb on live TV that brought Kings fans to their feet during a victory-day celebration, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti issued no apologies on Tuesday.

At City Hall Tuesday, members of the City Council laughed it off, saying the mayor was speaking the language of a contact sport with a robust fan base. But in his first speech since, Garcetti not only didn't swear, he didn't bring it up until reporters did.

"I am so proud of the Kings and I got enthusiastic," he said. "And if there is one thing hockey fans appreciate, it is enthusiasm. When you surround yourself with hockey players for an entire five blocks you have to be careful what comes out of your mouth.

"I got a little carried away with my enthusiasm but I think hockey fans understand it."

During a speech at a Kings rally at Staples Center on Monday, Garcetti brought fans to their feet with applause when he told the crowd about rules politicians should not break.

"They say never, ever be pictured with a drink in your hand and never swear, but this is a big (expletive) day," Garcetti said, drawing a roar from the crowd and laughs and applause from the Kings players.

During an appearance Monday night on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" Garcetti said, "I got a little ahead of myself ... You gotta remember, we didn't win at lawn bowling. We won in hockey. Kids out there, do not say what your mayor said today."

The mayor's F-bomb brought mixed reactions on Tuesday.

Councilman Joe Buscaino said following Tuesday's council meeting it was no surprise that people at the rally -- including the Kings players -- stood and applauded after the comment.

"It was an exciting moment and I can't believe just one word has sparked so much interest and debate within our city," Buscaino said, adding that he tells his kids not to repeat bad words.

Councilman Herb Wesson said Los Angeles has a good mayor who works hard. "It's time for us to move on," Wesson said.

Others said it required a conversation with their kids.

"You try to protect them," said Jan Howell, a member of the Crenshaw Chamber of Commerce. "What you have to say ... is, 'Hm, probably he shouldn't have said that."

Asked if such language adds to the coarsening of American culture, Garcetti deferred, saying that was over-analysis of a word that everyone has heard.

<![CDATA[Mayor on Kings Victory: "Big F---ing Day"]]> Tue, 17 Jun 2014 09:24:11 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/205*120/garcetti6.JPG

The enthusiasm for the home team spilled out. Mayor Eric Garcetti, in his Kings jersey and holding a beer can, dropped the F-Bomb on live TV.

Garcetti stood at the microphone on the Staples Center ice and told the crowd about rules politicians should not break.

"They say never, ever be pictured with a drink in your hand and never swear, but this is a big (expletive) day," Garcetti said, drawing a roar from the crowd and laughs and applause from the Kings players.

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Just to show that the off-color language was no mistake, the mayor's office then posted on Twitter, "There are a few rules in politics, one is never swear, but this is a #BFD."

Following the mayor at the microphone, former player and now Kings president of business operations Luc Robitaille poked fun at Garcetti, saying, "Well, we told our players not to cuss. Thanks."

Quest 4 the Cup: Kings v. Rangers

The rally was being televised live on Fox Sports West, and a commentator apologized to viewers after the network failed to censor the offending word.

The Kings clinched the Stanley Cup on Friday when they beat the New York Rangers, 3-2, at home in a historic double overtime victory against the New York Rangers.

Garcetti said he was looking forward hearing New York Mayor Bill DeBlasio sing "I Love LA," on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" after the East Coast mayor lost a Stanley Cup bet.

<![CDATA[Must See: Confetti Drop at Kings Parade]]> Mon, 16 Jun 2014 14:09:01 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/confetti-cup.jpg Kings players aboard double-decker buses hoisted the Stanley Cup, shining bright on a sunny Southern California day, above their heads as they passed cheering fans on Figueroa Street en route to Staples Center.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Justin Williams at Kings Victory Parade]]> Mon, 16 Jun 2014 14:05:14 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/williams+thumb1.jpg After a postseason of overtime thrillers and comeback wins, Kings fans and players celebrated with a Stanley Cup victory parade]]> <![CDATA[Sutter: I've Never Felt Relief]]> Mon, 16 Jun 2014 13:58:46 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/212*120/kings+parade+darryl+sutter.jpg Coach Darryl Sutter talks about the feeling of winning the Stanley Cup for a second time. Video from Monday June 16, 2014.]]> <![CDATA[Alec Martinez Shows Off Signed Jersey]]> Mon, 16 Jun 2014 13:59:33 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/martinez+alec+kings+jersey.jpg Alec Martinez, who scored two series winning goals in the playoffs, shows his jersey signed by all of his teammates. Video from Monday June 16, 2014.]]> <![CDATA[Images: 2014 LA Kings Stanley Cup Victory Parade]]> Mon, 16 Jun 2014 13:46:03 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/confetticupjune16.JPG Los Angeles Kings hockey fans celebrate with the team in downtown Los Angeles.]]> <![CDATA[Kings Fans Celebrate With NHL Royalty]]> Mon, 16 Jun 2014 21:50:04 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/198*120/kings+brown+stanley+cup+parade.jpg

Fans dressed in black and white lined a parade route Monday to celebrate the Los Angeles Kings' second Stanley Cup Final victory in three years after the team's thrilling run through the playoffs  ended with a double-overtime victory over the New York Rangers.

Kings players aboard double-decker buses hoisted the Stanley Cup, shining bright on a sunny Southern California day, above their heads as they passed cheering fans on Figueroa Street en route to Staples Center. A giant banner that reads "We Are All Kings" was hanging from an entrance to the arena. where Los Angeles closed out a stunning playoffs run with a 3-2 Game 5 victory over New York.

Flatbed trucks with bleachers arrived along the parade route early Monday. Double-decker buses draped with the Kings logo were parked downtown, ready to carry the Stanley Cup champions past fans -- some of whom staked out a viewing area as early as 6 a.m.

Fans then attended a sold-out rally inside Staples Center with players.

The parade marked an opportunity for fans to cheer in care-free celebration without the cloud of tension that accompanied each of the Kings' post-season series -- all but one of which required seven games and included several Kings comebacks and overtime battles.  Los Angeles fell behind 2-1 in the second period Friday, then displayed the same resiliency that propelled them through the playoffs.

"The first one is your first, so it's special," said Kings goalie Jonathan Quick of the 2012 championship. "We faced more adversity, more ups and downs, so we're enjoying this one, right now. The whole run was up and down -- tough losses, dramatic wins."

The Kings appeared headed for an early exit in the opening round of the playoffs, falling behind the San Jose Sharks 3-0. But LA became one of only four teams to come back from a 3-0 series deficit, winning the next four games to advance to the next round against Southern California rival Anaheim.

"It was just a matter of winning one at a time," said Kings radio broadcaster and former Kings player Daryl Evans. "The toughest game was to go into San Jose and win Game 5. They don't get too high, they don't get too low. They trust and believe in each other."

LA claimed the Freeway Faceoff series in seven games after falling behind 3-2 against a Ducks team that seemed poised for its own Stanley Cup run.  The Kings, for a fifth time during the playoffs up to that point, staved off elimination and went on the win the final two games.

"I always believe in my team and my teammates," said Kings defenseman Drew Doughty. "When the playoffs roll around, that's the time we shine."

The win earned the "Cardiac Kings" a shot against the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks with the trip to the final on the line. The Kings appeared to gain control of the Chicago series when they took three of the first four games, but the Blackhawks fought back to even the series at three games apiece.

Once again the Kings found themselves in a Game 7, this time facing a 2-0 deficit early before scrapping back to within 3-2 entering the second period. LA trailed 4-3 midway through the third period when Marion Gaborik backhanded home a goal to force overtime.

Defenseman Alec Martinez clinched the series for LA in overtime with a wrist shot that found the back of the net.

Los Angeles was poised for a Stanley Cup Final sweep of the Rangers after winning the first three games, but New York extended the series with a win in Game 4 at Madison Square Garden. The series returned to Staples Center Friday, when the Kings won on another clinching goal from Martinez, who slammed a rebound past Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist at 14:43 of the second overtime.

"I'm not a hero," Martinez said Monday. "I don't care who scored those goals as long as it was someone in our room."

The goal sent the Staples Center crowd, already its feet throughout the overtime periods, into a frenzy and gave the franchise its second Stanley Cup since Los Angeles was awarded an NHL team in 1966. For much of the team's history, that moment of elation seemed out of reach as the team endured several seasons of early playoff exits and mediocrity.

Then the "The Great One" arrived. In 1988 after a blockbuster trade with the Edmonton Oilers, Wayne Gretzky spent eight years in LA and the team reached the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in 1993, losing to Montreal in five games.

The team hit another dry spell until 2012, when it won the first of two Stanley Cups by defeating the New Jersey Devils 4-2.

<![CDATA[Kings Fans Show Their Pride]]> Mon, 16 Jun 2014 06:49:43 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/450589412_10.jpg LA Kings fans cheer on their team against the New York Rangers in the Stanley Cup Final.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[NYC Mayor to Sing His Love for LA]]> Sun, 15 Jun 2014 19:21:28 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/de-blasio-wedding-ring.jpg

The Los Angeles Kings may have closed out the New York Rangers in five games to win the Stanley Cup, but apparently the series isn’t over until the mayor of New York sings.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio is scheduled to perform a rendition of the Randy Newman anthem, "I Love L.A.," on an upcoming episode of “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” because of a bet made with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti over the results of the Stanley Cup Finals.

Another stipulation of the bet means de Blasio also has to supply the Jimmy Kimmel audience with hot dogs from New York’s famed “Gray's Papaya.”

If the Rangers would have won, Garcetti would have had to perform the Frank Sinatra classic “New York, New York,” on the late night talk show and provide franks from Los Angeles icon “Pink’s Hot Dogs.”

The wager between the two mayors is only one of a string of cross-country challenges put forward by luminaries of California and New York. LAPD Chief Charlie Beck and NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton offered deli sandwiches to the winner of their bet.

The governors of the two states also made a wager for similarly delicious stakes.

California Gov. Jerry Brown bet a box of rice cakes and a California history book, while New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo put up a “Taste of New York” gift basket and a commemorative hockey puck.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Caught on Camera: Woman Falls on Staples Center Ice]]> Mon, 16 Jun 2014 03:57:02 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/217*120/lady+fall+on+ice.jpg

Not everyone can be as graceful on ice as professional hockey players.

Following the Stanley Cup victory at the Staples Center, NBC4's Mario Solis was reporting live when one woman was caught on camera attempting to cross the ice in heels, a feat that proved just as difficult as it sounds as she slipped and fell during a live television broadcast.

Someone rushed over and immediately helped Hannah Hunsinger up.

Hunsinger, a member of the Kings ice crew, caught up with Solis following her spill.

"Yes, I am OK," Hunsinger said. "You'd think that after skating on the ice, I'd be OK with walking on it but that wasn't the case."

Though a little embarrassed, Hunsinger tweeted reporters in good spirits after the video quickly went viral.

“Thank you @Deadspin and @NBCLA for capturing such a fantastic fall,” she tweeted. “At least I got a good ending pic out of it.”

The Kings beat the Rangers 3-2 in double overtime Friday night.

<![CDATA[Kings Have All the Makings of a Dynasty ]]> Sat, 14 Jun 2014 11:00:48 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/450588692.jpg

The Los Angeles Kings definitely made their fans earn their pay-off on Friday night as they took until deep into the second overtime to dispatch the New York Rangers and earn their second Stanley Cup championship in three seasons. Alec Martinez was once again the hero for the second consecutive season, burying a rebound chance past Henrik Lundqvist and sending the Kings into the summer on the highest of notes.

For now though, the Kings have a victory parade to plan, and fans and pundits are left with a burning question in their minds: where do the Kings stack up among NHL franchises, and are we seeing the makings of a potential dynasty in the City of Angels?

The answer to that first question is a bit of a tricky one. Teams like the Detroit Red Wings still get a ton of publicity for their intelligent drafting and ability to hold onto their players long-term, but it’s been a while since they made a lot of noise in the playoffs, and with guys like Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg getting older every day, it’s going to be interesting to see how they react.

The Pittsburgh Penguins are much the same way, with players like Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin having missed out on going back to the Stanley Cup Final since making it in back to back years in 2008 and 2009. With teams like the Montreal Canadiens, Boston Bruins, and the defending Eastern Conference champion New York Rangers in their way, it seems like the Pens’ route back to the Final is going to be a tough one, so it’s hard to argue they belong on the top of the mountain.

Ultimately, the Kings belong in the top one or two teams in the league in terms of how the franchise is run, and the team running right alongside them are the Chicago Blackhawks. Martinez’s goal beat the Hawks in Game 7 of the Western Conference Final, but it was Chicago’s fourth appearance in that round of the postseason since 2009, and they’ve also won two Stanley Cups in the process. With young guns like Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane complemented by a rotating cast of incredible talent assembled by GM Stan Bowman, the Blackhawks are one of the models of consistency in the NHL now, and the Kings definitely belong in that conversation too.

As for whether or not Los Angeles can be considered a dynasty, the answer is a bit easier to define. It’s been 15 years since a team has repeated as Stanley Cup champions, and even though the Kings didn’t join that club with their win, they still came really close. They’ve made the conference finals the last three seasons, have gotten to the Cup Final and won two of those three years, and lost to the ultimate champions in the one year they didn’t make it.

Perhaps more importantly though, the Kings are a young team that is getting even better with age. Defenseman Drew Doughty is only 24 years old and is considered one of the most explosive blue liners in the game. Tanner Pearson and Tyler Toffoli both came out of relative obscurity (at least in national circles) during these playoffs and formed one of the most dynamic lines of the postseason with veteran center Jeff Carter. Jake Muzzin has shown some growing pains on defense, but he is another player that has the potential to be special for Los Angeles. Even guys like Anze Kopitar (26), Jonathan Quick (28), and Dustin Brown (29) are on the correct side of 30 years old, and all three are locked up to contracts for the foreseeable future.

The future will hold some challenges for the Kings, as they deal with free agency for Toffoli (2015), Pearson (2015), and Kopitar (2016), but for the most part, this team’s core is locked up and ready to go for a repeat next season. Dean Lombardi and Darryl Sutter have established a team that could be a dominant force in the NHL for years to come, and while the road will never be easy with teams like the Blackhawks and the Anaheim Ducks standing in the way, the Kings are the class of the NHL and a dynasty in the making.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Kings Win Stanley Cup in 3-2 Victory ]]> Sat, 14 Jun 2014 00:14:47 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/208*120/kingswinhandsup1.JPG

Just when it appeared that Game 5 of the series would go to a third overtime, Alec Martinez fired in the game-winning goal to give the Los Angeles Kings their second Stanley Cup championship in three seasons with a 3-2 victory. 

Marian Gaborik scored the game-tying goal in the third period, and Justin Williams scored in the first period for the Kings. 

As the first period got underway, the Kings came out of the gate and dominated the proceedings, picking up the first six shots on goal in the contest. After a solid possession, they got a power play less than two minutes into the game when Rick Nash was whistled for hooking Jake Muzzin, but in spite of a great shot from Drew Doughty that Henrik Lundqvist made a pad save on, the Kings couldn’t jump out to an early lead.

They continued to press the issue even after that play however, and eventually they were able to put the puck in the net. After Justin Williams made a nice play to keep the puck in the zone, Willie Mitchell blasted a shot in on goal. Lundqvist was able to make the initial save, but both Jarret Stoll and Jeff Carter kept hammering away at the loose puck. Neither scored, but Williams snuck in behind the play and slid the puck into the net to give Los Angeles a 1-0 advantage.

After the Kings’ goal, the Rangers seemed to settle down, and they finally got their first shot on goal of the contest about eight minutes in. They got a power play out of that possession, but their best chances were wasted as Brad Richards fired one shot high and another wide as the power play passed uneventfully.

The Kings ultimately ended up outshooting the Rangers 7-6 in the period, but both teams were caught being undisciplined in the closing stages of the frame. First Benoit Pouliot drilled Jonathan Quick in front of the Kings’ crease to head to the box, and then Drew Doughty negated the remainder of the Los Angeles power play when he was whistled for cross-checking. That penalty gave the Rangers a brief power play to begin the second period.

When the second period got underway, both teams traded some quality scoring chances, but neither could convert. Kyle Clifford's deflection of a Doughty shot was denied, and Dustin Brown blasted a shot from the slot but Lundqvist was there to take care of it. At the other end, Brad Richards had a deflection skip just wide of the cage, and Quick made a save on a wraparound attempt off the rebound. Finally, Jarret Stoll and Dwight King both had great chances in front of the net, but both were stopped. 

Later in the frame, the Rangers got a power play thanks to a King penalty, and this time they were able to convert to tie the game. After some quick puck movement around the zone, Ryan McDonagh dropped into the slot from the point and received a pass. He hesitated for a moment for Chris Kreider to get open, and when the forward got inside position, McDonagh's pass didn't miss the mark, and Kreider flipped home a one-timer to tie things up at 1-1. 

The Kings themselves got a power play with less than three minutes to go in the period, but Anze Kopitar and Marian Gaborik both were denied scoring chances. With just five seconds to go on that power play though, it was the Rangers that flew down the ice and took the lead. Carl Hagelin won a puck battle in the neutral zone with Slava Voynov, and when Brian Boyle got the puck, he worked his way around Doughty and fired a top-shelf goal past Quick to give New York a 2-1 lead through two periods. 

The third period got off to a bit of a sluggish start, but eventually the Kings' offense kicked into high gear. Kopitar had a golden chance from in close during a netfront scramble, but he opted for a pass instead of the shot and the opportunity fell by the wayside. Then Jake Muzzin ripped a shot from the face-off dot that Lundqvist stopped, but Carter still got a rebound chance that he barely whiffed on to keep New York in front. 

With about 12 minutes left, the Kings got a power play, and they capitalized in short order. Doughty wired in a shot from the point, and Marian Gaborik deflected it in on Lundqvist. Eventually it trickled into the goal, and the Staples Center erupted as the Kings tied things up at 2-2. 

The chances kept coming from the Kings in the ensuing minutes, but Lundqvist stood strong. Kopitar had a wrap-around chance denied, as did Mike Richards, and Carter also collected a shot from the slot. All the shots ended up being fought off by the Swedish goaltender, and he was loudly chastising his teammates for their lackluster play following the sequence. 

In the closing seconds, the Kings continued to pound away at the net, but they couldn't convert despite several close calls. The closest came with just a few seconds remaining as Muzzin's shot flew past the near post and slammed into the boards. The buzzer sounded shortly thereafter, and the teams went to overtime for the third time in this series. 

In the first two minutes of overtime, the Kings had several chances to win the game. Alec Martinez's shot from the point was deflected by Williams, but Lundqvist made the save. Tanner Pearson also checked in with a shot, as did Gaborik, but neither could convert as the game continued. 

The Rangers finally started pushing back after the initial rush by the Kings, and on a power play thanks to a Voynov penalty, they very nearly won the game. Ryan McDonagh wired in a shot from the slot that beat Quick, but it bounced off the inside of the post and skipped away from the net. A few minutes later, the Kings had a chance of their own that drew iron, as Tyler Toffoli's shot rang off the crossbar and drew groans from the nervous crowd. 

Both sides continued to rack up chances, with the Rangers getting some great ones with about a minute left. Mats Zuccarello had the best one off a won face-off, getting to a loose puck in front, but Quick was there to make the save. Kreider also had a chance with about 20 seconds remaining when he got in alone on a breakaway, but Quick made the arm save to force a second overtime period. 

In the second overtime period, both teams had an opportunity to score goals, but they continued to be stymied by posts. Finally though, it was Martinez who ended up being the hero. When Toffoli's shot was kicked aside by Lundqvist, Martinez picked up the rebound and fired it into the net to give the Kings the win. Martinez was immediately mobbed by his teammates along the side of the net, and streamers floated down into the crowd and onto the ice as the Kings celebrated. 

Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Kings, Coach Sutter on Game 5]]> Fri, 13 Jun 2014 10:13:44 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/la+kings+stanley+cup+game5+justin+williams.jpg Kings players and coach Darryl Sutter say it doesn't matter where they win the Stanley Cup. The Kings get their second shot at closing out the Rangers Friday night at Staples Center in Los Angeles.

Photo Credit: KNBC-TV]]>
<![CDATA[Kings Should Remain Confident Despite Game 4 Loss]]> Thu, 12 Jun 2014 11:19:57 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AP602111419273.jpg

For the third time in four games in the Stanley Cup Final, the Los Angeles Kings went down by a two-goal margin to the New York Rangers on Wednesday night, but unlike the previous times they'd faced the deficit, they weren't able to come all the way back, losing a 2-1 decision and losing an opportunity to clinch the series in four games.

After the game, a lot of the focus was on Henrik Lundqvist, and how his 40 saves in the game carried the Rangers to victory. It's hard to argue with that narrative, especially the way the goaltender played in the third period of the contest. In that frame, the Rangers were outshot by the Kings by a 15-1 margin, and Lundqvist made every stop he needed to.

While the Kings and their fans may be ruing the fact the team failed to clinch the title on Wednesday night, the reality of things is that Los Angeles continued to prove that they are the superior team in the series. While the Rangers have been good in fits and bursts (often early in games when their speed is at its peak), the Kings have consistently shown that they can grind the blue shirts down, and outshooting them by a 30-12 margin over the final 40 minutes of Game 4 was yet another example of that.

Lundqvist is going to get a lot of credit for stealing the game for the Rangers, but the Kings outplayed them and came within mere inches of winning the game. In the first period, Jeff Carter whiffed on a puck that was stalled out on the Rangers' goal line before Anton Stralman saved the day and fired it out of the crease. Late in the third period, Derek Stepan was the one bailing out the Rangers, pushing the puck away from the goal line and underneath his goaltender to earn a stoppage.

If it hadn't been for the slush on the goal line (and one whiffed attempt by Carter), this would have been a completely different game. The Rangers have not shown an ability to come from behind in games, and the longer the contest stays even the larger the gap between the two clubs appears. The Kings are a team that has been consistently playing well in the third period of games, and the Rangers have yet to show that they can hang with Los Angeles in that situation.

It is for those reasons and more that Kings fans should be confident that the team will close out the series on Friday night. Yes Lundqvist is probably going to have another excellent game, and yes players like Marty St. Louis and Chris Kreider are capable of carrying the load offensively for the Rangers, but the Kings are still rolling four high quality lines and playing absolutely suffocating defense at the other end. Eventually that talent will win out over the last gasp tries of the Rangers to stay alive in the playoffs, and it should ultimately culminate with Dustin Brown hoisting the Stanley Cup on Staples Center ice on Friday night.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Kings Fans: We're Bringing It Back]]> Thu, 12 Jun 2014 08:57:24 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/200*120/lion+kings+hockey+mascot+bailey.jpg The disappointment of a Game 4 loss was quickly forgotten Wednesday night as Los Angeles Kings fans a LA Live looked forward to Game 5 Friday at Staples Center against the New York Rangers.]]> <![CDATA[Kings Lose Game 4 to Rangers, 2-1]]> Thu, 12 Jun 2014 01:03:12 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AP602111419273.jpg

The Los Angeles Kings came within inches of scoring the tying goal in the third period, but with Henrik Lundqvist making 15 third period saves, the New York Rangers staved off elimination with a 2-1 victory in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final. 

The Rangers came out of the gate eager to fight for their playoff lives, and they had some great chances early on. The best one came on a 2-on-1 rush featuring Rick Nash and Carl Hagelin, but Nash’s pass across the ice barely evaded the rushing forward, and the Kings dodged a serious bullet.

After Willie Mitchell nailed Derek Dorsett with a high stick, the Rangers went on the power play and continued to generate chances. Brad Richards fired in a shot from between the dots, but Jonathan Quick made a beautiful kick save. John Moore also had a shot stopped a few moments later, but ultimately the Rangers were able to score just after the power play ended.

Moore once again got the puck near the point following a Kings turnover, and his shot was deflected by Benoit Pouliot in front, and when it just dipped under the crossbar, the Rangers scored their first goal in over 123 minutes of play and grabbed a 1-0 lead in the contest.

The Kings themselves got a power play later in the period, and they came within about two inches of tying things up. Off a shot from in close, the puck bounced off of Henrik Lundqvist and came to rest on the goal line. Jeff Carter whiffed in his opportunity to put it across the line, and Anton Stralman made a tremendous play to clear the puck from danger and keep his team ahead.

In the period, the Kings outshot the Rangers by an 11-7 margin and won 20 of the 24 face-offs in the frame, but the home side still maintained a 1-0 lead as the horn sounded for the first intermission.

As the second period began, the Kings did a much better job of getting their offense going, with two solid scoring chances in the opening moments. Marian Gaborik blasted a shot off the crossbar on a rush shot, and then Jarret Stoll's opportunity on a 3-on-2 rush was stopped by Lundqvist in the crease to keep his team in front. 

Despite that early push, the Kings ended up ceding momentum back to the Rangers with a power play courtesy of Mitchell, and eventually New York scored to take a two goal lead. Chris Kreider's stick broke on a shot attempt close to the net, but Marty St. Louis was there to pick up the loose puck and fire it past Quick to give the Rangers a 2-0 lead. 

The Rangers got another power play shortly after that goal, but it was the Kings who were able to score the all important third goal. When Dan Girardi's stick shattered at the blue line with a few seconds left on the man-advantage, Dustin Brown picked up the puck and outsmarted Lundqvist with a series of quick dekes to score and make it a 2-1 game. 

In the final minutes of the second period, the Kings continued to pile up chances, but the Rangers held onto their slim lead. Carter was stopped by Lundqvist on a breakaway chance, and Tanner Pearson was also denied on a breakaway of his own. Justin Williams also had several chances to score, including a shot on a late Kings power play, but Lundqvist made a glove save to end the threat. Finally, Carter got one last chance in the closing seconds of the period, but Lundqvist kicked out his left leg to stop the puck from sliding across the goal line. 

Just like the end of the second period, the Kings continued to pound away at the New York defense, ultimately racking up 15 shots on goal in the period. Kopitar got things started with an excellent shot toward the net that was barely blocked down by traffic, and Brown's rebound attempt was stopped by Lundqvist. The goaltender had to make another save a few minutes later when Pearson got yet another scoring chance from in close, but the Rangers continued to lead. 

In the final minutes of the period, the Kings had several more great chances to score, but none came closer than a shot by Pearson. The puck trickled between Lundqvist's legs, but slush in the goal crease prevented it from going in, and eventually Stepan had to grab the puck and shove it under his goaltender to get a whistle to draw a whistle. 

The Kings will get a second chance to wrap up the championship on Friday night when the series shifts back to Los Angeles. Puck drop is scheduled for 5pm Pacific time, and the game can be seen on NBC. 

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[If Kings Win Title, Who Should Win Conn Smythe? ]]> Wed, 11 Jun 2014 10:40:37 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/493964521.jpg

The Los Angeles Kings are one win away from their second Stanley Cup championship in three seasons, and they will have their first opportunity to clinch the title when they take on the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night.

If the Kings are able to finish off the series and become the first team to earn a sweep in a Cup Final since the Detroit Red Wings white-washed the Washington Capitals in 1998, there is one question that needs to be asked: Who will be awarded the Conn Smythe Award as the playoff MVP?

To answer that question, we put together a list of five contenders for the trophy, and we’ll make our selection at the end.

Jeff Carter

Carter has been an instrumental part of the Kings’ offensive attack during the postseason, and while he only has a goal and an assist against the Rangers thus far, his play against the Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference Final gives him a strong chance at the award. He racked up five goals and six assists in that series, including a goal in the series-clincher in the Windy City.

Drew Doughty

Doughty has had some cold streaks during these playoffs (including a notable power outage against the Anaheim Ducks), but he really has stepped up at times as well. His goal in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final was the stuff of legends, and the seven points he had in the series against the Blackhawks helped the Kings to finish off the defending champions. He also plays nearly 30 minutes a game at a very demanding position, and his excellent two-way play has been a blessing to the Kings.

Marian Gaborik

Gaborik has been an instrumental player for the Kings as they went from having a lackluster offense during the regular season to the league’s best in the postseason. He was especially great in the series against the Ducks, racking up six goals and four assists in the seven game victory. His 13 goals lead all postseason scorers, and he has points in five of the Kings’ last seven games.

Anze Kopitar

Kopitar leads the NHL in postseason points with 26 so far this year, and his ability to move the puck around the ice has helped the Kings in a big way. Through the first two rounds of the playoffs he had five goals and 14 assists, and he has showed little sign of slowing down outside of a couple of rough games against Jonathan Toews and the Blackhawks. He has two assists so far in the Stanley Cup Final.

Justin Williams

Williams is a player who is now legendary for his Game 7 exploits (he has two goals and three assists in three Game 7’s this season), but he has been on fire over the team’s last five games. In those contests, Williams has two goals and seven assists, and he has arguably been the best player on the ice for Los Angeles so far in the Cup Final.

And the Winner Is….

It really is a tough decision on who to go with for playoff MVP honors, with Kopitar and Doughty both playing such instrumental roles. At the end of the day though, the one player who is really excelling the most when the pressure is at its highest is Williams and it’s because of his play in the conference and Cup finals that gives him the edge in our eyes for the Conn Smythe.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rangers, Kings Face off in Stanley Cup Final]]> Fri, 13 Jun 2014 22:12:10 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AP849754072215.jpg The New York Rangers face the Los Angeles Kings for the Stanley Cup championship, the National Hockey League's most coveted prize.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Quick Response From LA Kings Goalie]]> Tue, 10 Jun 2014 07:07:44 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/215*120/quick+king+goalie.jpg Los Angeles Kings goalie Jonathan Quick has a one-word response when asked whether he "can taste" a Stanley Cup Final sweep. More Kings reaction after Tuesday's Game 3 victory in New York.]]> <![CDATA[Map: Follow the Stanley Cup]]> Fri, 13 Jun 2014 13:42:11 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/kopitar-cup-slovenia.jpg

The Stanley Cup spent a day with each member of the Los Angeles Kings organization after the 2012 season. Use the map at the bottom of this page to see some of the places it visited.

The Kings won their first Stanley Cup on June 11, 2012 after defeating the New Jersey Devils 6-1 in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final at Staples Center.

The Stanley Cup travels approximately 250 days per year as it spends a day with the winning team's players and members of management.

Follow NBCLA for the latest LA news, events and entertainment: iPhone/iPad App | Facebook | Twitter | Google+ | Instagram | RSS | Text Alerts | Email Alerts

View Following the Stanley Cup in a larger map

Photo Credit: Twitter: Philip Pritchard]]>
<![CDATA[Kings Shut Out Rangers 3-0 in Game 3]]> Mon, 09 Jun 2014 20:23:25 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/kings-rangers-game-3-ny-stanley-cup-final-june-9.jpg

Jonathan Quick made 32 saves and Jeff Carter, Drew Doughty, and Mike Richards scored goals as the Los Angeles Kings knocked off the New York Rangers by a 3-0 margin Monday night, putting themselves one win away from a Stanley Cup championship. 

As opposed to the first two games of the series, Game 3 got off to a seemingly slow start as neither team was able to get much going in the way of shots on goal. The Kings had a couple of good chances on Henrik Lundqvist early in the contest, with Tanner Pearson and Matt Greene each putting shots on net. The Rangers goaltender stood tall however and kept things scoreless.

The Rangers had a good chance of their own with about seven and a half minutes remaining in the period, as Mats Zuccarello ended up with a puck in his skates near the blue paint. He wasn’t able to score on the empty net however, as Jonathan Quick flew across the crease and stopped the shot with his stick to prevent New York from taking the lead.

Overall in the period, the shots on goal total ended up being 5-4 in favor of the Kings, but the only important shot came with one second left in the frame as Jeff Carter gave his team their first lead of the series. Justin Williams made a nice play at the blue line to settle the puck down, and with the Rangers’ defense perhaps thinking the period was about to end, Carter glided through the slot and whipped a wrist shot past Lundqvist to give the Kings a 1-0 advantage just before the intermission.

As the second period got underway, the Rangers committed a couple of penalties early on to give the Kings their first real sustained momentum of the period. About four minutes into the frame the Kings finally cashed in, as Jake Muzzin’s snap shot evaded Lundqvist and gave Los Angeles a 2-0 lead.

Perhaps inspired by the goals they had surrendered, the Rangers finally came to life as the second period wore on, and they drew a power play of their own as a result when Willie Mitchell was sent to the penalty box for throwing an elbow at Zuccarello’s head. The Rangers did get four shots on goal during the ensuing two minutes, with Benoit Pouliot and Derick Brassard both getting great opportunities near the tail end of the man-advantage. Quick was there to stop both shots, and eventually smothered the puck to draw a stoppage.

The Rangers had another great scoring chance a few minutes later when Rick Nash had a wraparound chance near the net, but Drew Doughty saved the day by committing a hooking penalty to deny a shot. New York continued to move the puck around the zone, but Quick again stood tall and made every save he needed to as the Kings continued to lead the contest.

The Kings had a power play chance fall by the wayside right after the successful penalty kill, but they couldn’t score on it. Undaunted by that failure, they continued to press the other way, and on a 2-on-1 rush late in the period they scored another goal. Mike Richards tried to feed the puck across the ice to Trevor Lewis, but when Ryan McDonagh batted the pass back to Richards, he calmly fired a shot past Lundqvist to give Los Angeles a 3-0 lead with less than three minutes remaining in the period.

With the 3-0 lead, the Kings once again gave New York a chance to get on the board when Muzzin took an ill-advised penalty. Despite the chance, the Rangers couldn't convert, and they headed into the second intermission trailing by three goals. 

In the third period, the Rangers continued to press the issue on offense, but once again Quick was up to the task. Chris Kreider had a breakaway chance less than 10 seconds into the period, but Quick made the save. The Rangers then had a power play less  than a minute later on a penalty by Matt Greene, but they couldn't convert as Los Angeles maintained their lead. 

Ultimately, the Rangers outshot the Kings by an 11-2 margin in the third period, but in spite of that disparity and the fact that they pulled Lundqvist with over four minutes remaining in the game, they couldn't get any sustained pressure, and with the loss they now find themselves one loss away from a summer of disappointment. 

As for the Kings, they will have an opportunity to become the first team since the 1998 Detroit Red Wings to sweep their way to a Stanley Cup championship, and they'll get that chance at 5pm Pacific time on Wednesday night. The game can be seen on NBCSN. 

Photo Credit: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Kings vs. Rangers: Three Keys to a Los Angeles Game 3 Win]]> Mon, 09 Jun 2014 16:54:28 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/450248676.jpg

The Los Angeles Kings are in familiar territory on Monday night as they prepare to battle the New York Rangers in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final. Up two games to none after two straight come-from-behind overtime victories, the Kings will be looking to put a stranglehold on this series and force the Rangers to the brink of elimination.

Before they can do that, we have our Three Keys to Victory as the Kings continue their quest for a second Stanley Cup championship in three seasons.

Prepare for an Initial Push

In the first two games of this series, the Rangers have come out of the gate with a strong offensive effort, utilizing a mix of great speed among their forwards and some tremendous transitional play by defensemen like Ryan McDonagh. The Kings have been knocked on their heels a bit by this early onslaught, but they have obviously recovered nicely as they’ve picked up back-to-back victories.

As should be expected from a team down 0-2 in the series however, Monday night will likely prove to be more of the same from that perspective. In these playoffs, the Rangers have been positively dominant when they take the ice at Madison Square Garden for the first time, and even though their 1-2 record in those three home openers may not show it, the shot totals certainly do.

In those three games, the Rangers have outshot their opponents by a margin of 108-55, and a lot of that hay has been made in the first period of games. The Kings have to be ready for that onslaught in the early going, and they have to somehow try to avoid the pitfall of going down early on the scoreboard once again.

Kings’ Penalty Kill Must Continue Rangers’ Power Play Woes

For all of the great puck movement and scoring chances that the Rangers have generated in the first two games of this series, their power play production numbers are still woefully low.

Over the course of their last six games, the Rangers are 2-for-24 on the man-advantage, and in this series specifically they are 1-for-8 against the Kings. Guys like Brad Richards are doing a nice job of moving the puck around the zone, and players like Marty St. Louis have been able to find some open space, but it’s been a combination of solid goaltending and great shot blocking that has enabled the Kings to largely keep the Rangers silent in this area.

That trend has to continue on Monday night if the Kings are going to grab a 3-0 lead in the series. Allowing an opponent to capitalize on your mistakes is the surest fire way to lose a game, and the Kings can’t fall into that trap in this one.

Dustin Brown Must Continue to Build on Game 2 Success

While a lot of the attention in the first two games of the series has been showered upon players like Justin Williams and Willie Mitchell (and rightfully so), Kings captain Dustin Brown has been doing a good job of upping his play at the right time.

His crowning moment (forgive the royally cheesy puns) came in the second overtime period of Game 2 when he redirected a Mitchell shot past Henrik Lundqvist and into the net to give his team a 2-0 lead in the series. The play encapsulated everything that Brown can bring to the team, as his quality passing led to a possession and his willingness to go to the front of the net to create screens and deflect shots resulted in a goal.

If the Kings are going to pick up a Game 3 victory, they will need more of that type of play from Brown. He is a player who always gets to the dirty areas, draws penalties, and delivers hits, and his example is one that the team will need to follow for success in this game.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Kings' Resilience Has Them Two Wins from Cup]]> Sun, 08 Jun 2014 09:07:43 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AP942576578540.jpg

The Los Angeles Kings, described as “cockroaches” for their ability to survive basically any circumstance in these playoffs, lived up to the moniker again on Saturday night as they overcame three separate two-goal deficits to win a 5-4 double overtime victory over the New York Rangers in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final.

With the victory, the Kings have now won three games in a row in the playoffs, including their Game 7 triumph over the Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference Final, after facing two-goal deficits. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that winning streak is the first of its kind in NHL history: 

During that run, the team has shown tremendous resilience, but their strategy is a simple one in the eyes of captain Dustin Brown, who had the game-winning goal on Saturday night.

“It starts with one. That’s what our mentality is,” he told the media after the game. “Whether we’re down two, up two, the situation doesn’t change for us. Where we have faltered is at the start of games, the last three games really. The mentality of our team is very black and white. It allows us to stay in games and to kind of turn the tide over the course of the game, and has allowed us to come back.”

That disciplined approach to the game has been a hallmark of head coach Darryl Sutter’s club during this postseason. Even when they were down three games to none in the first round against the San Jose Sharks, the Kings never deviated from their game plan, and that dedication to executing their strategy has led them to repeated impressive comebacks.

In the second round of the playoffs, the Kings got off to a similar start as they have in the Stanley Cup Final, winning the first two games and heading back to Staples Center with a chance to put the Anaheim Ducks on ice. Their crosstown rivals ended up winning the next three games to force the Kings into a do-or-die situation, but Los Angeles pulled through and won the final two games to win the series.

Against the Blackhawks, the Kings found themselves in a unique position as they held a 3-1 lead in the series over the defending champions. Slowly but surely, the Blackhawks clawed back into the series, winning Games 5 and 6 to force a deciding Game 7 in the Windy City. Facing a 2-0 deficit in that game, the Kings eventually worked their way back into tying the game, and won in overtime on a deflected goal by Alec Martinez to advance to the final round of the postseason.

In spite of that repeated success, the team recognizes that they are playing with fire if they continue to trail in games like they have been.

“Are we playing good or are we not? Right now we’re doing a lot of things that aren’t in our game, haven’t been in our game for years here,” Kings forward Jarret Stoll said. “We’re getting away with it right now. Don’t get me wrong, we did a lot of things to come back. We’ve (just) got to be honest with how we’re playing. We know we’ve got more.”

Stoll was also realistic about assessing his team’s chances at a championship even with a 2-0 lead, saying that they’ll have to play even better hockey than they have been in order to win the title.

“We never expected this to be an easy series or a short series,” he said. “It’s going to be a long series. It’s going to be a very tough series. We just have got to keep pushing and throw our best game at them in Game 3. We have to go into MSG and have a simple, smart, physical road game, grind it out again, (and) do whatever it takes to win a game.”

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Williams, Mitchell Provide Punch as Kings Grab 2-0 Lead]]> Sun, 08 Jun 2014 08:39:11 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AP111614497188.jpg

The Los Angeles Kings never make it easy, but they definitely know how to close out a game as Dustin Brown’s overtime winner gave the team a 5-4 victory over the New York Rangers on Saturday night and a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.

We’ll have plenty more reaction to this game, as well as a look ahead to Game 3 of the series in the Big Apple on Monday night, but for now, here are our Three Stars of Game 2.

Third Star: Jarret Stoll

While Brown got a ton of love from the media after his overtime game-winner (he was named First Star of the contest by the LA media after the game), Stoll’s contributions to the victory were just as important as those of the team’s captain.

To start off with, Stoll scored the Kings’ first goal of the game in the second period. After a Dwight King pass from the point following a Rangers’ turnover, Justin Williams got the puck in the low slot near the goal mouth. New York goaltender Henrik Lundqvist came out to challenge a shot, but Williams opted to turn back around and head toward the point. Caught out of position, the goaltender could only watch helplessly as Stoll fired a shot past Lundqvist and Kevin Klein that brought the Kings back to within a goal.

Perhaps more importantly than his goal in the game was Stoll’s ability to win face-offs. With Anze Kopitar struggling in a big way from the dot (he only won 16-of-41 draws in the contest), Stoll came up big by winning 23 face-offs in 38 attempts, helping the Kings establish possession and ultimately giving them a leg up in the victory.

Second Star: Justin Williams

Williams shed his reputation as solely a Game 7 giant with his great play in Game 1 of the series, but he had a heck of an encore on Saturday night as the Kings were victorious.

The veteran forward assisted on the Kings’ first three goals of the game and ultimately racked up four shots on goal in the game. He also dished out a hit and blocked a shot in 23:05 of ice time, and his service as a catalyst for the team’s offense was worthy of praise.

In addition to his patient play on Stoll’s second period goal, Williams had a couple of other moments of excellence on the ice. On Willie Mitchell’s goal in the second period, Williams played a key role in establishing a good possession for the Kings, and with Dwight King in front providing a screen, Williams and Slava Voynov cycled the puck to the point for Mitchell to blast in the goal to make it a 3-2 game.

In the third period, a lot of the focus on King’s goal was that he was right in Lundqvist’s crease on the play, but Williams had the key contribution as he protected the puck behind the net from an intense Ranger forecheck, getting a secondary assist as a reward.

First Star: Willie Mitchell

Mitchell’s ability to fire shots from the point came in handy on several occasions on Saturday night, and without his precise shooting, there’s no way that the Kings would have won the game.

Mitchell first displayed his shot on his own second period goal, blasting a slapper past Lundqvist thanks to a clever screen by King. The puck sailed past Lundqvist’s blocker pad and just inside the near post on the play, giving the Kings their first goal of the contest.

In the second overtime period, Mitchell’s shot came in handy again. This time he grabbed a pass from Kopitar at the point, and with Brown flying through the slot, Mitchell wired a shot through the zone that Brown tipped past Lundqvist to give the Kings the victory.

Mitchell also had three blocked shots and a hit in 34:14 of ice time in the game, and without his stellar all-around effort, the team may have faced a tied series instead of a two games to none advantage as the scene shifts to the East Coast for Games 3 and 4.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Kings Beat Rangers 5-4 in Double OT]]> Sat, 07 Jun 2014 21:32:38 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/kings-rangers-game-2-stanley-cup-june-7.jpg

The Los Angeles Kings and New York Rangers played more than 90 minutes of hockey Saturday night, and it was captain Dustin Brown who won it for the Kings with a goal in double overtime to give his team a 5-4 victory. 

Justin Williams picked up three assists in the game, and Willie Mitchell had a goal and an assist on the game-winning tally as the Kings grabbed a 2-0 lead in the series. 

Just like they did in the first game of the series, the Rangers came out of the gate firing on all cylinders. They had their offense going, with Rick Nash nearly scoring an early goal off a quick feed from Derek Stepan, and they also got their physical game going too, with Ryan McDonagh drilling Jeff Carter with a hip check at the blue line. They weren’t able to get an early lead during those opening minutes, but they certainly laid the groundwork for their success later in the frame.

The Kings had a few chances of their own, with Marian Gaborik getting robbed by Henrik Lundqvist on a shot through a screening Anze Kopitar. Tyler Toffoli also had a short-handed chance that rang off the post, sending a collective groan through the Staples Center crowd.

That missed chance ended up proving costly as the Rangers got on the board first. With Alec Martinez putting a screen on his own goalie, McDonagh loaded up with a slap shot from the point and blasted it past Jonathan Quick to put New York up 1-0.

The Kings got a power play chance late in the period when McDonagh was sent off for cross-checking Dustin Brown, but they couldn’t capitalize on the chance. Martinez had the best scoring chance of the sequence when he took a stride in from the blue line and let a slap shot fly from the slot. Lundqvist gloved it down with ease and kept his team in front.

With a little over a minute remaining in the period, the Rangers scored again. Matt Greene whiffed on a shot and turned the puck over for Los Angeles, and eventually it found its way to Derrick Brassard behind the net. McDonagh fired a shot from the point that hit traffic in front, but Mats Zuccarello was there to pick up the rebound, fighting off Kopitar near the blue paint and pushing the shot into the goal to make it a 2-0 game, which it would remain through the end of the first period.

Just two minutes into the second period, the Kings scored a goal to make it a 2-1 contest. Lundqvist came flying out of the goal to pursue Justin Williams, but the veteran winger smartly skated back to the boards and dished a pass to Jarret Stoll. The center then feathered a shot past Lundqvist and Kevin Klein to get his team back to within one goal. 

Both teams traded power plays after that goal, but neither side was successful. The Rangers then got another power play when the Kings were whistled for a too many men penalty, and they were able to convert. Stepan received a touch pass at the blue line, and he ended up on a 2-on-1 rush with Marty St. Louis. The veteran winger blasted a one-timer past Quick and into the net to give the Rangers back a two goal lead at 3-1. 

Not to be outdone, the Kings scored a power play goal of their own a few minutes later. Dwight King set up a great screen at the top of the crease to impede Lundqvist's vision, and when Willie Mitchell unleashed a slap shot, it tickled the twine as the Kings pulled to within a 3-2 margin. 

Just 11 seconds later, the Rangers scored again to make it a 4-2 contest. After Quick tried to handle the puck, it popped up in the air and over Mitchell's stick. Zuccarello then won a battle for the loose puck and fed a pass to the front of the goal, where Brassard popped in a quick shot to best Quick and give his team an insurance goal. 

In the third period, the Kings came out firing as they attempted to get back in the game, and they got a goal early on as a result. With Dwight King jostling for position with McDonagh in front of the cage, the puck found its way out to the point where Greene blasted a slap shot. The puck ended up deflecting off of King and into the net, and despite Lundqvist's pleading for a penalty, there wasn't one coming as the Kings made it a 4-3 game. 

A few moments later, the Kings tied things up. Following a crazy sequence that saw the puck pinball all over the ice, Marian Gaborik eventually found a loose puck following a missed clearing attempt by McDonagh, and on his second attempt he fired it past Lundqvist to tie things up at 4-4 about halfway through the period. 

In the second half of the frame, both teams had their fair share of chances to score, but neither goaltender was willing to yield an inch. Lundqvist especially was tested, with the Kings' second line getting a good number of scoring chances. Jeff Carter continued to do a good job of moving the puck through the zone, but the Rangers' goaltender stood strong as regulation time ended and sent the two teams to overtime for the second consecutive game. 

Unlike the first game of the series, this game didn't end quickly in the overtime frame. Both sides had tremendous scoring chances, with Carter picking up a few for Los Angeles and Chris Kreider getting a breakaway chance in the late stages of the frame. Despite both teams combining for 14 shots on goal in the frame, the game remained tied after 20 extra minutes. 

When the second overtime began, the Kings started to push the issue once again on offense. Williams had a shot blocked by Dan Girardi early on, and Doughty also had a chance denied. The Rangers did get a few shots on goal during that stage of overtime, but Quick was there to stand tall as Anton Stralman's chance from in close was denied by the sliding goaltender. 

Finally, the Kings established possession in the offensive zone and ultimately won the game. With Brown skating across the slot, Mitchell fired in a slap shot from the point. Brown got a stick on the shot to deflect it past Lundqvist, and in the blink of an eye the Kings had grabbed a 2-0 series lead. 

Los Angeles will look to put a stranglehold on the series when the two teams meet again on Monday night in the Big Apple. The game will begin at 5pm Pacific time, and it can be seen on NBCSN. 

Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Will Ferrell Cheers on Kings in NYC Billboard ]]> Sat, 07 Jun 2014 15:51:19 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/web+will+ferrell+billboard+kings+copy.jpg

Will Ferrell is serious about his Los Angeles Kings.

Just ask New Yorkers.

A “Go Kings Go!” advertisement popped up outside Madison Square Garden Friday ahead of Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final between the New York Rangers and Kings.

Twitter user Matt Kolowski snapped the photo around 3 p.m. after noticing the Anchorman star on an electronic billboard giving a warrior cry in the heart of New York City. In the photo, Ferrell appears to be making a lot of noise for the Kings as he sports his team’s colors.

The billboard trolling comes just a few days after Ferrell, a long-time Kings fan, said the Los Angeles-New York battle is good for his city, hockey as a whole, and yes, even New York.

"It's great for the East Coast to find out how hockey really is played," Ferrell joked.

Los Angeles heads into Game 2 at the Staples Center leading the series 1-0. The series shifts back to New York on Monday. 

Photo Credit: Twitter/@slim]]>
<![CDATA[Rangers' Speed Among Lessons From Game 1]]> Fri, 06 Jun 2014 08:38:05 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/web_dustin_brown_1_1200x675_274963011685.jpg LA Kings Dustin Brown talks about what the team learned from Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final and how the involvement of two large cities like LA and New York affect the vibe of the series. Video from Thursday June 5, 2014.]]> <![CDATA[Kings Return to Normal Schedule]]> Fri, 06 Jun 2014 08:37:32 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/web_sutter_media_day_thurs_1200x675_274961987815.jpg LA Kings Coach Darryl Sutter talks about some of the adjustments the team had to make to prepare for Game 1. Video from Thursday June 5, 2014.]]> <![CDATA[Doughty Plays Big Role as Kings Win Game 1 ]]> Thu, 05 Jun 2014 09:39:11 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/New-York-Rangers-LA-Kings-Game-1.jpg

The Los Angeles Kings had to come from behind once again in this postseason after surrendering two early goals, but just like they've done on numerous other occasions they managed to escape Staples Center on Wednesday night with a 3-2 win over the New York Rangers in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final.

The Kings will look to take a 2-0 lead in the series on Saturday afternoon, but before we get into breaking down that game, here were our Three Stars of the contest.

Third Star: Justin Williams

Williams has been lauded for his prowess in Game 7s in recent weeks, but it didn't seem to matter which game he was playing in on Wednesday, as he picked up the overtime game winner and added an assist in the Kings' victory.

Williams' assist in the game was just as notable as his goal would end up being. After receiving a stretch pass from Kyle Clifford, Williams broke into the offensive zone, but he was massively outnumbered by Rangers skaters. Seeing this, Williams turned back toward the blue line to buy a bit of time, and he ended up finding a streaking Drew Doughty as the trailer. Doughty ended up scoring on the play to tie things up.

On his game-winning play, Williams teamed up with Mike Richards to end the game and give the Kings the series lead. Richards got things started by pressuring the Rangers' puck carriers in the defensive zone, and ultimately he forced a turnover by Dan Girardi. Seeing this play developing, Williams moved into open ice in the slot, and when Richards found him with a pass, the sniper connected on a shot that beat Henrik Lundqvist to end the contest.

It was a great all-around play by both guys on the ice, and it's that kind of depth production that gives the Kings an advantage in the series.

Second Star: Kyle Clifford

Clifford didn't get off to a great start in the game, committing a few turnovers that led to Rangers' scoring chances, but he definitely finished off on a high note, picking up a goal and an assist in just 9:03 of ice time.

Clifford's goal came late in the first period with his team down 2-0. Jeff Carter did a lot of the dirty work on the play, back-checking aggressively and forcing a turnover, but it was Clifford that added his skill into the mix, lifting a shot from just inside the goal line over Lundqvist and into the top corner of the net to get his team on the board.

Clifford also had a solid pass up to Williams in the neutral zone in the second period of the game that ultimately led to Doughty's goal, but it was his ability to bounce back from a shaky start and get his team on the board that really set him apart in this one.

First Star: Drew Doughty

Throughout the playoffs, the Kings have been able to get their offense going when Doughty is more assertive on that side of the puck, and that was definitely the case on Wednesday night when he scored the game-tying goal in the second period of the contest.

While the play by Williams to set up the goal was really smart, the play by Doughty was downright spectacular. Catching the puck in stride at the blue line, Doughty flipped it between his own legs on the rush, deked around another defender, and drove hard to the net. He forced a shot in between Lundqvist's arm and chest protector and into the goal, tying the game and sending the Staples Center crowd into a frenzy.

It was a tremendous individual play to cap off an excellent transition sequence, and it was definitely a kickstarter for the tremendous Kings offensive dominance through the latter stages of the game.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Will Ferrell Enjoying NY-LA Fight for Hockey Supremacy]]> Thu, 05 Jun 2014 10:45:09 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/web_ferrell_kings_game1_1200x675_274314307647.jpg Long-time Los Angeles Kings fan and actor Will Ferrell, wearing a Kings jersey, talks about his love of the sport, the battle between New York and Los Angeles and LA hockey fans. Raw video from June 4, 2014 at Staples Center.]]> <![CDATA[Kings Beat Rangers 3-2 in Game 1 of Cup Final]]> Thu, 05 Jun 2014 10:55:40 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/kings-rangers-game-1-stanley-cup-finals-wednesday-june-4-staples-center.jpg

The Los Angeles Kings trailed in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final, but Justin Williams capped off a comeback victory with the overtime game winner as they won a 3-2 decision over the New York Rangers on Wednesday night. 

Kyle Clifford and Drew Doughty also scored goals for the Kings, while Carl Hagelin and Benoit Pouliot had the goals for the Rangers. 

In lieu of slowly starting out by prodding for weak spots in the defense, both teams came flying out of the gate to begin the game, and the Rangers had the early advantage in shots and chances. Rick Nash and Chris Kreider each had good shots from in close, but Jonathan Quick made a couple of solid saves. Jeff Carter then ripped a one-timer off a pass from Tanner Pearson, but Henrik Lundqvist was there to slam the door as the game remained scoreless.

The high pace ended up netting the Rangers the first power play of the game, but they weren’t able to convert. The best chance came at the very end of the man-advantage as Mats Zuccarello picked up a loose puck right next to the cage, but Quick kicked over to the near post and was able to smother the puck.

Just a few minutes later however, the Rangers’ aggressiveness finally paid dividends as they picked up the first goal of the series. When Drew Doughty tried to pull off a toe drag move at the blue line, Benoit Pouliot stole the puck and came down the ice on a breakaway. His wrist shot beat Quick to the blocker side, and the Rangers quieted the crowd by taking a 1-0 lead with about seven minutes remaining in the first period.

The Kings bounced back by getting a power play chance of their own, but it was New York that ended up scoring to extend their lead. First Brian Boyle had a breakaway chance that Quick was able to stop, and the goaltender also stopped a breakaway shot from Carl Hagelin a few seconds later. Unfortunately for Quick, Slava Voynov accidentally kicked the rebound into the net, and the red light came on as the Rangers took a 2-0 advantage.

With two minutes remaining in the period, the Kings finally got on the board. Carter got things started by driving hard to the net, but his shot ended up sliding wide. The veteran center didn’t quit working however, forcing a turnover with a great backcheck and feeding a pass to Kyle Clifford at the side of the cage. Clifford lifted a quick shot over Lundqvist and into the top corner of the cage to make it a 2-1 game, which it remained through 20 minutes of play.

When the second period got going, the Rangers once again started out aggressively, using their speed to stretch out the Los Angeles defense and create scoring opportunities. Jake Muzzin was whistled for a penalty early in the frame, but the Rangers weren't able to get many shots toward the net on the ensuing power play. Brad Richards had a good opportunity fall by the way side when his shot sailed wide, and the Kings blocked several shots to keep the deficit at just one goal. 

Taking advantage of the momentum generated by the successful penalty kill, the Kings came down the ice and tied things up about seven minutes into the period. Justin Williams skated into the zone and immediately turned around to wait for help from his teammates, and he wired a pass to Drew Doughty. The defenseman knifed through the defense, using his speed and puck-handling to get to the net, and he fired a wrist shot past Lundqvist to tie things up at 2-2. 

After that goal, things started to get a lot more physical in the game. Dustin Brown was levelled along the boards by Derrick Brassard along the boards, sending the Kings to a power play, but that was just the beginning of the festivities. Numerous players got into shoving matches after plays, and Boyle drilled Doughty in the head with the butt end of his stick. Brassard took a high stick from Mike Richards late in the period as well, but the Rangers weren't able to convert on the first portion of the power play before the second intermission buzzer sounded. 

In the first two periods of the game, the action had been largely even, but the Kings really ratcheted up the intensity in the third period. In the first seven minutes of action, Los Angeles outshot the Rangers by a 10-0 margin, with Tyler Toffoli and Willie Mitchell each firing in wicked shots that Lundqvist had to block aside. 

Later in the period, the Kings got their offense humming again. Mitchell had a shot blocked to the corner by Lundqvist, and after heading down the ice to break up a 3-on-1 with a diving poke check, he worked the puck back up the ice to Toffoli, who was stopped on a odd man rush by Lundqvist again. 

In the final 1:36 of time in the period, the Kings got a power play when Boyle was penalized for slashing. Hagelin nearly scored his second short-handed goal of the evening late in the period, but Quick was able to stop the shot and protect his post from a second chance attempt by the Rangers speedster. At the other end of the ice, Carter had a wraparound attempt that Hagelin nearly kicked into the net by mistake, but Lundqvist scrambled across the crease and pushed the puck out of the blue paint. 

When regulation came to an end, the Kings had outshot the Rangers by a 20-3 margin, but the score remained 2-2 as the game headed to overtime. 

Early on in the overtime, the Rangers turned the puck over in the defensive zone, and the Kings ended up making them pay. Williams got the puck wide open in the middle of the slot, and when he fired a shot past Lundqvist, he gave his team a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series. 

The Kings will look to defend home ice again on Saturday night when they take on the Rangers in Game 2 of the series. The game will air at 4pm Pacific time, and can be seen on NBC. 

Photo Credit: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Players, Fans Prepare for Game 1]]> Wed, 04 Jun 2014 15:10:07 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/web_adrian_kings_noon_1200x675_273754179647.jpg Players and fans prepare for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals. Adrian Arambulo reports from Staples Center for the NBC4 News at Noon on Wednesday, June 4, 2014.]]> <![CDATA[Rangers vs. Kings: Three Keys to Victory]]> Wed, 04 Jun 2014 12:59:34 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/493969309.jpg

The Los Angeles Kings will be looking for their second Stanley Cup championship in three seasons beginning on Wednesday night when they battle the New York Rangers in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final.

We’ve already detailed five of the key matchups between players and coaches in this series, but what are the overall keys to the Kings winning it all? To break that down, here are our Three Keys to Victory for the Kings as they pursue another title.

Kings Must Win the Depth Battle

The Kings are a team that has arguably the best depth among their forwards in the league, with a multitude of players that can play the center position effectively at its base. Guys like Dwight King and Jarret Stoll are both instrumental in that regard, and they came up with some big plays as the Kings eliminated the Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference Final.

With that in mind, the Kings have to use their depth to their advantage against the top-heavy Rangers. New York does have players like Rick Nash and Brad Richards, but outside of those kinds of top-tier guys, they are a team that isn’t exactly the deepest club the Kings have faced. Being able to take advantage of that kind of ability to roll four lines while your opponent is running double-shifts is key to wearing a team down, and that’s something Darryl Sutter has to do.

Quick Must Improve Over Performance in Chicago Series

When the Kings were trailing the San Jose Sharks by a three games to none margin in the first round, Jonathan Quick was one of the primary catalysts for the team as they stormed back and won the series. He gave up just five goals over the final four games of the series while facing 135 shots, and his teammates picked up their scoring pace to gain the victory.

In the second round against the Ducks, Quick once again was key as the Kings came back from a 3-2 deficit. He only allowed three goals in the final two games while facing 49 shots, besting rookie John Gibson and giving the Kings the victory in the first ever Freeway Face-Off.

Against the Blackhawks however, Quick struggled a bit with his rebound control. His positioning was still good, but all too often Blackhawks players like Jonathan Toews and Bryan Bickell would get inside position on the Kings’ defenders, and when Quick would let loose a rebound, the Hawks’ shooters would pound home second chance opportunities for goals.

Going up against the Rangers, Quick has to be better than he was during large stretches of the third round series with Chicago. He was instrumental in the Kings winning a title in 2012, but he hasn’t been that guy as of late. He will need to really pick up his game and control his rebounds better, but knowing Quick, it’s something he’s definitely capable of doing.

Penalty Killing Must Improve Against Rangers

The Kings’ penalty killing unit was one of the team’s primary strengths against the Sharks in the first round, but starting against the Ducks and continuing on against the Blackhawks, the PK unit began to give up quite a few goals. In the conference final series, the Kings gave up six power play goals to the Blackhawks, who hadn’t exactly been lighting the world on fire in that department during the earlier stages of the postseason.

As for the Rangers, they haven’t been the best on the power play in the playoffs, scoring five goals in six games against the Canadiens in the conference final, but with guys like St. Louis and Nash roaming the ice, the team is not to be taken lightly in that area.

If the Kings are going to find a way to beat the Rangers in this series, they are going to have to get a better effort out of their penalty killers. A lot of that starts with Quick, but guys like Kopitar and Drew Doughty also have to step up their games as well.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Viewing Guide: Hockey Rules, Terms to Know]]> Wed, 04 Jun 2014 18:29:27 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/196*120/nhl+official+kings+blackhawks.jpg

The Stanley Cup Final between the Los Angeles Kings and New York Rangers will likely attract viewers who are new to the fast-paced sport. Below, an introduction to some of the rules and terms to know as Los Angeles and New York face-off.

About the Playing Surface

First off, the surface markings -- lines, circles and dots -- that provide the ground rules for the action. Here's a look at some of the most commonly referenced parts of the ice.

Neutral/Defending/Attacking Zone:
The area in the center of the rink between two blue lines is the neutral zone. The defending and attacking zones are all about one's perspective. The part of the rink in which a goal is located is called the "defending zone" of the team defending that goal. The part of the rink on the other end from that goal is that team's "attacking zone."

Blue Line: These two lines separate the attacking and defending zones from the neutral zone.

Center Line: The red line running side-to-side smack in the middle of the rink.

Goal Line: The red line between each goal's posts measures two inches wide and extends completely across the rink. The puck must entirely cross the goal line between the goal posts and below the crossbar for a goal to be scored.

Goal Crease: The location in front of the goal designated by a semi-circular area that extends just beyond the sides of the goal posts.

Goalkeeper's Restricted Area: The trapezoid-shaped area marked by red lines extending behind each goal. "Should a goalkeeper play the puck behind the goal line outside the designated area behind the net, he shall be assessed a minor penalty for delay of game."

Face-Off Spots: Face-off spots are marked by dots -- two in both end zones on each side of the goal, two near each blue line in the neutral zone and one at center ice.

Common Penalties and Other Rules

Penalties can shift the advantage to one team and make all the difference in a game, so it's good to know what will catch an official's attention. Below, some of the most common penalties as outlined in the NHL rulebook.

Boarding: When a player "checks or pushes a defenseless opponent in such a manner that causes the opponent to hit or impact the boards violently."

Charging: "Charging shall mean the actions of a player who, as a result of distance traveled, shall violently check an opponent in any manner."

Clipping: "The act of throwing the body, from any direction, across or below the knees of an opponent."

Cross-Checking: When a player uses the shaft of his stick -- the area held between two hands -- to forcefully check an opponent.

Fighting: Disagreements happen. And when they do, officials have the unenviable job of stepping in between. From Rule 46.1: “A fight shall be deemed to have occurred when at least one player (or goalkeeper) punches or attempts to punch an opponent repeatedly or when two players wrestle in such a manner as to make it difficult for the linesman to intervene and separate the combatants.” Officials have broad latitude when it comes to the type of penalties handed out, including a five-minute major, 10-minute misconduct and game misconduct.

High-Sticking: In broad terms, a player is responsible for his stick. When a player carries his stick above the height of an opponent's shoulders and contacts the opponent with the stick, officials will be looking for anything not considered accidental or part of a normal motion.

Holding: When a player "retards the progress of an opposing player whether or not he is in possession of the puck."

Hooking: The act of using a stick to restrain an opponent.

Roughing: When a player use "a punching motion with the hand or fist, with or without the glove on the hand, normally directed at the head or face of an opponent."

Slashing: Swinging a stick in a "forceful or powerful chop" at an opponent.

Too Many Men on the Ice: Assessed when a player on the bench comes onto the ice "before his teammate is within the five foot limit of the players' bench.

Basically, using a "stick, knee, foot, arm, hand or elbow" in any way that causes the opponent to trip or fall.

Icing: One of the most common reasons for a stoppage in play. "Should any player of a team, equal or superior in numerical strength (power-play) to the opposing team, shoot, bat or deflect the puck from his own half of the ice beyond the goal line of the opposing team, play shall be stopped."

Off-Side: Players on an attacking team cannot enter the attacking zone before the puck. "A player is off-side when both skates are completely over the leading edge of the blue line involved in the play."

Other Things to Know

Line Changes: Unlike basketball or football, player substitutions are made on the fly and can, under strict rules, be made after stoppages.

Periods: An NHL game is divided into three 20-minute periods. Play resumes after intermissions "upon the expiration of seventeen minutes or a length of time designated by the League from the completion of play in the preceding period."

Overtime: There are no ties in the playoffs and overtime rules are different, and less complex, than the regular season. If a game is tied after three 20-minute periods, the teams play additional 20-minute periods until someone scores a goal.

Series Format: The teams will play a best-of-seven series with the first two games in Los Angeles and the next two in New York. If needed, Game 5 would be back in LA, Game 6 would be in New York and Game 7 would be in LA.

The Stanley Cup: The reason everyone is here -- one of the most stately and storied trophies in professional sports. Bands around the Cup are inscribed with team members' names and members of the winning organization are awarded a day with the Cup -- a tradition that has taken it around the world.

The Handshake: There will be hitting, punching, shoving and a complete disregard for self preservation through four games or more, but the two teams will line up after the final game and shake hands at center ice. It is one of the great spectacles of sportsmanship.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Excitement Builds Around Stanley Cup Final]]> Wed, 04 Jun 2014 13:19:22 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/staples+center+statue+magic+kings.jpg Even the Staples Center statues are behind the Los Angeles Kings as they take on the New York Rangers in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final. Adrian Arambulo reports for the NBC4 News at Noon on Wednesday June 4, 2014.]]> <![CDATA[Rangers vs. Kings: Five Key Matchups]]> Thu, 05 Jun 2014 03:57:39 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/211*120/kings+quick+kopitar+492803037_10.jpg

It may not have the two weeks of hype that the Super Bowl gets every year, but after several days of hearing talking heads yakking about the Stanley Cup Final, it will be great to see the Los Angeles Kings and New York Rangers finally drop the puck on the championship series Wednesday night at Staples Center.

In honor of this occasion, we have five matchups that could ultimately be the key for the series, and which player or coach has the advantage in each one.

Top Line Centers: Derek Stepan vs. Anze Kopitar

Advantage: Kopitar

Stepan has been doing a great job for the Rangers during the postseason, scoring five times and adding eight assists in 19 games for the blue shirts. He also has five power play points, which is tied for second on the team.

Despite those numbers, Kopitar still wins this matchup with ease. He is the leading scorer in the playoffs with 24 points (5 G, 19 A), and when you factor in his defensive prowess and face-off ability, he is likely the best center remaining in these playoffs.

Trade Deadline Acquisitions: Martin St. Louis vs. Marian Gaborik

Advantage: Gaborik

This matchup is much tighter, but we’ll give the slight edge to Gaborik. He leads all scorers in the postseason with 12 goals, and he has been arguably the biggest asset to the Kings’ offense since he was acquired. St. Louis gives the Rangers a lot more flexibility offensively in his own right, but Gaborik has come through time and again for the Kings in these playoffs.

Young Defensemen: Ryan McDonagh vs. Jake Muzzin

Advantage: McDonagh

The Rangers finally get on the board here as they ride the wings of one of the most talented young defensemen in the league. McDonagh had a nice coming out party at the Olympics in Sochi for Team USA, and he has continued his strong play in the postseason with three goals and 10 assists in 20 games. He’s averaging over 25 minutes of ice time a night, and is the Rangers’ leading point producer on the power play. His all-around game is solid, and he really gives New York a big boost from their blue line.

Goaltenders: Henrik Lundqvist vs. Jonathan Quick

Advantage: Lundqvist

Quick has the edge in experience when it comes to the Cup Final, but judging by the way the goalies have played recently, the veteran Swede has the edge in the series. He has looked positively dominant in the postseason with a 2.03 GAA and a .928 save percentage, and his shutout victory over the Montreal Canadiens in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final was a thing of beauty.

Coaches: Alain Vigneault vs. Darryl Sutter

Advantage: Sutter

Both coaches have systems that their teams rigorously stick to, but Sutter’s system for the Kings has been the more impressive one in the postseason. Their team defense is excellent, and their transition offense was a huge key to beating the Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference Final. Vigneault does have his team playing their best hockey of the year, but we’re still going to give the edge narrowly to Sutter in this closest of the matchups.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[California Dreamin' or New York State of Mind]]> Wed, 04 Jun 2014 07:20:41 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/212*120/trevor+lewis+la+kings+nhl.jpg Two very different cities are playing host to the Stanley Cup Final. What Rangers and Kings players like about New York and Los Angeles. Mario Solis reports for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on Tuesday June 3, 2014.]]> <![CDATA[First Thoughts: Rangers vs. Kings]]> Mon, 02 Jun 2014 11:03:51 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/495205705.jpg

The Los Angeles Kings went through their first 44 years in the NHL without a Stanley Cup championship, but with a title in 2012 in hand, they will be looking to add another ring to their collection as they take on the New York Rangers in the Stanley Cup Final.

The series, which begins on Wednesday afternoon at Staples Center, will feature two teams that have taken interesting routes to this round of the postseason. The Kings have won three Game 7s on the road during these playoffs, and ended up dethroning the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference Final. They also came back from a 3-0 series deficit against the San Jose Sharks in the first round, and they added some flair to their run by knocking off the Anaheim Ducks in the first ever Freeway Face-Off in postseason play.

As for the Rangers, they too have taken a unique route to their first Cup Final appearance in 20 years. They knocked off the Philadelphia Flyers in the first round of the postseason, winning a Game 7 on home ice to do it, and they stunned the Pittsburgh Penguins in a seven-game upset in the second round. They got some luck against the Montreal Canadiens when the Habs lost goaltender Carey Price for the series, but they still looked really solid as their offense churned into high gear in a 4-2 series victory.

If fans were to read just about any preview of this series, they would see that the Kings are largely favored by experts to win the championship. The Western Conference is the superior conference in the NHL at the moment, and watching the difference between Kings/Blackhawks and Canadiens/Rangers was a night and day experience. Add to that the gobs of experience that this team has in tough situations during this postseason, and it’s easy to see why the Kings are so heavily favored to win the title.

Despite that kind of optimism, there are still plenty of reasons for Kings fans to fear the Rangers. First and foremost on that list are the star players that New York brings to the table. Whether it’s established veterans like Brad Richards and Martin St. Louis or youngsters like Ryan McDonagh and Chris Kreider, the Rangers have gotten contributions from just about everywhere in their lineup so far during the postseason, and they showed little sign of slowing down in the Cup Final.

The Rangers are also blessed with tremendous goaltending, as Henrik Lundqvist has been at the top of his game during the postseason. The Swedish-born netminder has a GAA of 2.03 in the postseason thus far, and he also has a .928 save percentage. With those numbers in mind, and knowing that Jonathan Quick looked pedestrian at times against the Blackhaws, it’s not a stretch to think that if the series comes down to a battle of goaltenders, the Rangers may have an edge.

All of that being said, this series will still be the Kings’ to lose. For the first time in the playoffs they will have the benefit of home ice advantage, and they will get plenty of time to rest before they get the series going on Wednesday. With those two things in mind, and with all of the other weapons and strategies they have at their disposal, the team is poised to make some history and to stake their claim as the best squad in the city.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Kings Make Big Statement With Game 7 Win]]> Mon, 02 Jun 2014 08:47:30 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/495205445.jpg

The Los Angeles Kings are no strangers to the rigors of Game 7 play, but on Sunday night they even outdid themselves with their performance in a 5-4 overtime victory over the Chicago Blackhawks.

For starters, the Kings won their third Game 7 of the postseason, with all of the victories coming on the road. The Kings are the first team to ever accomplish that feat, and they did it in some of the toughest road environments imaginable. The Kings’ two wins in this series at the United Center were the only times during the postseason that Chicago lost on home ice, and both victories were impressive to say the least.

In addition to the Kings simply winning and advancing to the Stanley Cup Final for the second time in three years, they also extended the remarkable run that Justin Williams finds himself on during Game 7’s in his career. The Kings forward is now 7-0 when he plays in a Game 7, and he has seven goals and seven assists in those contests. He picked up the primary assist on the game-winning goal by Alec Martinez, and he also scored a goal in the first period that tied the game at 2-2.

The Kings also got yet another great performance out of Marian Gaborik, who scored the game-tying goal in the third period. The tally was Gaborik’s ninth of the postseason, and it positions him to make a run at the Conn Smythe Trophy if the Kings end up winning the title. Anze Kopitar will also be in that discussion, and even though he wasn’t a huge presence in this game (he had a secondary assist on Gaborik’s goal), he still contributed, winning 16 face-offs against the Blackhawks.

Speaking of big-time performances, captain Dustin Brown was in top form in this game as well. He had two assists in the game, with primary helpers on Jeff Carter’s first period tally and Gaborik’s game-tying score in the third period, and he also racked up eight shots on goal and three hits in the game. He had largely been held in check during the early stages of the series, but he really stepped up his game in a big way even as his team was dropping contests, and that ended up making a huge difference for the Kings as they advanced.

Finally, the Kings’ youngsters had themselves a good game as well. Tanner Pearson was a constant thorn in the Hawks’ side as he racked up three shots on goal and five attempted shots total. Tyler Toffoli scored a key goal and added an assist in the game in just 13:02 of ice time. Martinez’s game-winning goal was his second in two games, and the 26-year old stepped up his game when the team needed him the most.

Add to that mix Darryl Sutter becoming the winningest Game 7 coach in league history (his seventh win is the most all-time in Game 7 play), and it’s easy to see why the Kings should be proud of what they accomplished by winning this series. The team has made it a point of bouncing back every time they’ve been punched in the postseason, and the defending champions landed some serious blows throughout the series.

Both of these teams really respect each other, and the odds are strong that their paths will cross again in the playoffs sooner rather than later. This time it was the Kings ending up on time, and they absolutely earned their berth in the final round of the postseason.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Kings to Open Cup Final Wednesday vs. Rangers]]> Mon, 02 Jun 2014 07:50:39 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/kings-rangers-stanely-cup-final.jpg

The Los Angeles Kings have faced three different Game 7s so far in the postseason, and they've won all of them as they knocked off the Chicago Blackhawks by a score of 5-4 on Sunday night. 

The win clinched a berth in the Stanley Cup Final, where the Kings will try to win their second championship in three seasons. Standing in their way are the New York Rangers, who are fresh off beating the Montreal Canadiens in a 4-2 series victory to seal their first Eastern Conference championship in 20 years. 

The Stanley Cup Final will begin on Wednesday night, and we have the full schedule here: 

Game 1: Wednesday, 5pm Pacific, NBC 

Game 2: Saturday, 4pm Pacific, NBC

Game 3: June 9th, 5pm Pacific, NBCSN

Game 4: June 11th, 5pm Pacific, NBCSN

*Game 5: June 13th, 5pm Pacific, NBC 

*Game 6: June 16th, 5pm Pacific, NBC

*Game 7: June 18th, 5pm Pacific, NBC

* = if necessary 

If fans want to purchase tickets to any of the games in Los Angeles, they can visit LAKings.com/playoffs to register for a chance to win an opportunity to buy seats. Fans can also purchase full season ticket packages from the team, which will afford them the chance to buy tickets in a special presale available only to season ticket holders. 

Photo Credit: Justin Heiman/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Kings Advance to Stanley Cup Final]]> Mon, 02 Jun 2014 02:01:11 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/kings-blackhawks-game-7-sunday-june-1-chicago.jpg

The Los Angeles Kings have advanced to the Stanley Cup Final with a 5-4 overtime victory over the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday night. Alec Martinez picked up the overtime winner to send the Kings to their second Cup Final in three seasons. 

The Kings will open up the Final at home on Wednesday night at Staples Center when they welcome the Eastern Conference champion New York Rangers to the West Coast. The Rangers won a 1-0 Game 6 victory over the Montreal Canadiens to clinch their berth in the Final for the first time in two decades. 

The game got off to a fast start as both teams tried to establish their game plans early, but it was the Blackhawks that got on the board first. After a lengthy possession in the offensive zone, Patrick Kane feathered a pass across the ice to Brandon Saad, who fired a shot off of Jonathan Quick’s arm and into the cage to give Chicago a 1-0 lead about five minutes into the game.

The Blackhawks continued to press the issue on offense after that goal, but they were unable to light the lamp again. Duncan Keith had a great chance from the slot, but his shot skips wide. Ben Smith also had a chance that he deflected just wide, and he collected his own rebound and put another shot on net, but Quick smothered the opportunity.

The constant pressure on Chicago’s side of the ice finally paid off as they got a power play goal a few minutes later. Brent Seabrook received a pass at the blue line after Kane got into the zone, and when Seabrook’s shot was deflected by Kane to the middle of the ice, Jonathan Toews was there to tap in the loose puck and putting Chicago up by a 2-0 score.

After those two goals, it seemed as though the Kings finally got their skates underneath them a bit, and they began to pepper Corey Crawford with shots. Tyler Toffoli fired a shot off the post after Johnny Oduya lost the puck in his skates, but the Kings’ forward rebounded nicely by picking up the primary assist on a Jeff Carter goal a few moments later. When Toffoli’s shot bounced into the air off of Crawford, Carter batted it into the goal, and when video review upheld the play, the Kings only trailed by a 2-1 margin.

In the blink of an eye, the Kings tied things up. This time it was Justin Williams doing the damage, as he collected the rebound on a shot that bounced off of Michal Rozsival in front, and he fired a snap shot past Crawford to tie things up at 2-2.

Just 12 seconds later, the Kings turned the puck over in the neutral zone, and the Blackhawks took the lead right back. Patrick Sharp carried the puck into the offensive zone, and when he put a shot toward the goal from the face-off circle, it bounced over Quick’s leg pad and into the net to give Chicago a 3-2 lead heading into the first intermission.

The Blackhawks got off to a dominant start in the period, preventing the Kings from getting a single shot on goal in the first seven minutes of the frame. The Hawks had some good possessions over that stretch, but they were unable to add onto their lead, and it ended up costing them.

About halfway through the period, the Kings established some good possession in the offensive zone, and when Dwight King’s shot toward the net was deflected by Michal Handzus, Toffoli picked it up and deposited it into the empty net to make it a 3-3 game.

As the period wore on, both teams had power play opportunities, but neither could convert. The Blackhawks had a good chance on a Keith shot from the point, but Quick was able to make the save and smother the puck to keep the game tied up. Kane also made a key play during a 4-on-4 stretch when Mike Richards tried to jump out on a breakaway, backchecking the puck carrier and forcing an awkward shot that didn’t find its way on net.

The Blackhawks got another power play late in the period, and this time they were able to convert. With Jake Muzzin screening Quick, Sharp got the puck near the blue line and fired a slap shot just inside the near post to give the Hawks a 4-3 lead after two periods.

The third period got started with both teams picking up quality chances, but the goaltenders and defenses stepped up in a big way. Crawford made a key save on Tanner Pearson on the rush to keep his team ahead, and Quick returned the favor at the other end by stoning a chance by Marcus Kruger. Alec Martinez also made a good play to break up a cross-ice pass on a 2-on-1 rush by Chicago, knocking Bryan Bickell's pass away. 

Finally, the Kings ended up breaking through with a goal with a little over seven minutes remaining in regulation. On a 3-on-2 rush, Dustin Brown fired a high shot that Crawford was able to stop, but the puck bounced right to Marian Gaborik, who calmly deposited the rebound into the net to tie things up at 4-4. 

Just before the end of regulation, the Hawks got a couple more good chances, but Quick made his biggest save of the game to force overtime. Andrew Shaw fired in a shot from the slot that Quick stopped, and he had to smother the rebound quickly before Kane could get at the loose puck. 

As the overtime got underway, both teams got their fair share of chances, but just under six minutes in, it was the Kings that ended up triumphing. Williams got the puck in the middle of the zone, and when his shot deflected off of Martinez's stick and Chicago defenseman Nick Leddy, it popped up over Crawford's shoulder and into the back of the net to send the Kings back to the Cup Final for the second time in three seasons. 

The Stanley Cup Final will begin on Wednesday night in Los Angeles as the Kings take on the New York Rangers. The game can be seen on NBC. 

Photo Credit: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Kings Lose 4-3 to Blackhawks in Game 6]]> Sat, 31 May 2014 09:24:42 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/200*120/kingsmay30crop.JPG

Drew Doughty and Alec Martinez scored third period goals to give the Los Angeles Kings a lead, but Duncan Keith and Patrick Kane both scored for the Chicago Blackhawks as they grabbed a 4-3 victory on Friday night to force a seventh game in the Western Conference Final. 

Dwight King also scored for the Kings in the losing effort. Kane and Ben Smith each had goals in the second period for the Blackhawks as they won their second consecutive game. 

The game got off to a rousing start as the Blackhawks pushed the tempo early and often. Marian Hossa had a huge shot from in close that Jonathan Quick was able to shoulder aside, and then Slava Voynov made a beautiful diving poke check to prevent a shot on goal by Andrew Shaw on the doorstep. Finally Patrick Sharp had his first quality chance of the contest, but Quick made the save and prevented a rebound by shoving the puck into the corner.

After a few minutes, the Kings seemed to get their legs underneath them, and started racking up chances of their own. Dwight King had a partial breakaway after a defensive lapse by Chicago, but Brandon Saad was able to get back and force him into taking a bad shot. Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson also picked up scoring chances, but both of their shots were denied by Corey Crawford.

The Blackhawks ended up getting a power play in the later stages of the period, but they weren’t able to get anything going. The Kings’ aggressive forecheck really slowed things down, and the Hawks were unable to get a single shot on goal during the sequence.

Seizing the momentum, the Kings once again established residency in the Blackhawks’ zone, and ultimately they were able to score the first goal of the game. With Brent Seabrook losing a foot race against Jarret Stoll behind the net, King skated freely through the slot and fired home a one-timer off a great feed to give the Kings a 1-0 lead with less than three minutes remaining in the first period.

The Kings got a couple more shots on goal in the closing stages of the period, but Crawford slammed the door to keep the advantage at just one goal after 20 minutes of play.

As the second period got underway, the Blackhawks got an early power play and they took full advantage. After some quick puck movement that got the Kings out of their defensive lanes, Jonathan Toews found Patrick Kane with a quick pass from behind the net, and the Hawks' forward fired a one-timer shot past Quick to tie the game up at 1-1. 

Just a few minutes later, the Blackhawks scored again to take the lead. This time it was Ben Smith doing the honors, taking a shot from behind the goal line that he bounced off of Quick's skate and into the cage to put the Blackhawks up by a score of 2-1. Sharp had a 2-on-0 opportunity just a few moments later, but his shot was barely stopped by Quick as it ricocheted off the goaltender's glove and off the crossbar to keep the Los Angeles deficit at just one goal. 

Fueled by that close call, the Kings' offense got its groove back and started firing in shots from all angles. Niklas Hjalmarsson made a great play to prevent a shot from Willie Mitchell on a 3-on-2 rush, and Crawford made several key saves in a row, including one on a shot from Marian Gaborik as the Blackhawks held onto their slim lead. 

Late in the period, both goaltenders made key saves as Crawford stopped an Alec Martinez wraparound and Quick stopped a Brandon Saad shot from the slot. After the horn sounded for the second intermission, both goaltenders seemed to want to continue the battle as they met at center ice and butted heads, but teammates interceded before the argument could descend into a fistfight. 

As the third period got underway, it was the Kings who came out and immediately took charge of the proceedings as they tied things up. Drew Doughty made a magnificent play to keep the puck in the zone, and his slap shot beat Crawford through a screen by Mike Richards to knot the game up at 2-2. 

Just a few moments later, the Blackhawks gave the Kings a power play opportunity thanks to a Toews penalty, and Los Angeles took advantage. Doughty once again made an excellent play to corral the puck near the blue line, and when he passed it to Alec Martinez, his fellow defenseman wired in a shot through Crawford's legs to put the Kings up 3-2. 

The goal seemed to snap the Blackhawks out of their complacency, and they tied things up a short time later. Kane made a really smart play as he circled the zone to get the defense moving, and when Duncan Keith pinched through the slot, Kane hit him with a pass. The defenseman then ripped a shot past Quick to tie things up at 3-3 near the halfway mark of the period. 

The Blackhawks weren't done yet however as they took a 4-3 lead with less than four minutes left in the period. Kane once again made the critical play for his team as he skated along the boards, and when he released his wrist shot, Quick couldn't stop it as the Blackhawks seized an advantage that they would never relinquish. 

Losers of two straight games, the Kings will look to win their third Game 7 of these playoffs when they take on the Blackhawks Sunday night at the United Center. The game will begin at 5pm Pacific time, and the contest can be seen on NBCSN. 

Photo Credit: Jeff Gross/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Kopitar Line Comes Through in Kings' Loss]]> Fri, 30 May 2014 06:06:50 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/494198825.jpg

The Los Angeles Kings had a great opportunity to eliminate the Chicago Blackhawks from the postseason and advance to the Stanley Cup Final on Wednesday night, but they coughed up a 4-3 lead early in the third period and were ultimately defeated by Michal Handzus’ game-winning goal in the second overtime period to drop a 5-4 decision.

The game wasn’t a pretty one for the Kings, who were down early in the game and struggled at times to keep up with the furious pace that the Blackhawks set. The Hawks scored two goals in the first three and a half minutes of the game, and just over a minute after Jarret Stoll scored the Kings’ first goal, Brandon Saad promptly came down the ice and flipped in a rebound one-timer past Jonathan Quick to make it a 3-1 game.

The Kings also committed several silly penalties that ended up costing them momentum. Just 30 seconds into the game Drew Doughty was sent to the penalty box for tripping, and Brent Seabrook scored a minute later to put the Blackhawks in front. Late in the game Jarret Stoll had a bad penalty of his own as he was sent off for tripping, and the Blackhawks came close on several occasions to taking the lead with less than three minutes to go in the game.

Of course, the Kings’ missteps in the game shouldn’t detract from the positive moves forward that the team took. Even on a night when they were getting everything they could handle and more from a desperate Blackhawks team, the Kings were still finding ways to get the puck in the net. Whether it was the second line pitching in once again, with Tanner Pearson scoring the go-ahead goal in the second period, or depth scoring with Stoll pitching in his second goal of the postseason, the Kings may have fallen a step behind at times, but for good chunks of the game they were able to keep up with the potent Hawks’ scoring attack.

Perhaps most importantly of all, the Kings finally got some solid production out of their top line, which has been largely quiet in this series. Dustin Brown scored on a rebound off a shot from Marian Gaborik to tie the game early in the second period, while Gaborik himself had gotten on the board in the first period thanks to an excellent feed from Anze Kopitar on the rush to get the Kings to within a goal.

Cumulatively, the three first liners had two goals and three assists in the game to go along with 11 shots on goal, and when you factor in the 15 hits that they threw, they were getting it done both from a scoring standpoint and a physicality standpoint.

When Game 6 rolls around in Los Angeles on Friday night, the Kings will have plenty to work on, including getting off to a better start and playing more responsibly on the defensive end of the ice, but if they can continue to get that kind of scoring punch out of their top line and their depth players, then it will go a long way toward ending this series at Staples Center.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Los Angeles Kings 2014 Playoff Run]]> Wed, 02 Jul 2014 13:53:06 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/211*120/kings+quick+kopitar+492803037_10.jpg Down 3-0 to the San Jose Sharks, the Los Angeles Kings need to rally if they are going to continue their playoff run.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Blackhawks Beat Kings 5-4 in Game 5]]> Thu, 29 May 2014 05:33:42 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/494203011.jpg

The Chicago Blackhawks coughed up an early lead, but Michal Handzus saved the day when his goal in the second overtime period lifted the defending champions over the Los Angeles Kings in Game 5 of the Western Conference Final. 

Ben Smith scored the game-tying goal in the third period, and Brandon Saad, Brent Seabrook, and Johnny Oduya also scored for Chicago. Jarret Stoll, Marian Gaborik, Dustin Brown, and Tanner Pearson all had goals for the Kings in the losing effort. 

The Blackhawks came out of the gate looking to seize the early momentum, and they did just that when Drew Doughty was whistled for a tripping penalty, sending Chicago to the power play. After Jonathan Toews won the face-off, the Blackhawks moved the puck around the zone with ease, and eventually a pass found its way to Brent Seabrook at the point, and he blasted it past Jonathan Quick to give Chicago a 1-0 lead after just over a minute.

A few minutes later, the Chicago pressure contributed to a second goal. This time it was the team’s stretch passing that did the trick, as Johnny Oduya and Andrew Shaw pushed the puck up the ice to Patrick Kane. The winger brought the puck into the zone, paused near the blue line, and then fired a shot in that Quick stopped. Oduya was there to collect the rebound though, and when he slid it past Quick the Hawks had a two-goal advantage less than four minutes into the contest.

As the period neared its halfway point, the Kings started to get more chances on goal, and they finally converted after a mad netfront scramble. When Patrick Sharp’s clearing attempt was kept in front of the net by a quick stick from Dwight King, Jarret Stoll picked up the loose puck and fired it past Corey Crawford’s glove to narrow the Chicago lead to 2-1.

A little over a minute later, the Blackhawks responded with a goal of their own. After Brandon Saad forced a turnover at the blue line and Kane won a puck battle along the boards, Shaw put a shot on net. Quick was able to make the stop, but Saad got inside position and fired the rebound shot into the goal to make it a 3-1 game after just 11 minutes.

The Kings weren’t done scoring yet, as they scored just two minutes later to narrow the gap to one goal. After Quick made a tremendous save on a Toews one-timer in the Hawks’ zone, the Kings jumped out on a 3-on-1 rush that Marian Gaborik finished off on a nice feed from Anze Kopitar to make it a 3-2 game.

As the period drew to a close, Niklas Hjalmarsson was sent off after picking up a silly penalty as he threw Dustin Brown’s stick down the ice. Fortunately for Chicago, their goaltender was there to pick up the slack, making a couple of key saves on Drew Doughty and Tyler Toffoli to keep Chicago in front as the first period came to an end.

When the second period got started, both teams got off to roaring starts. The Kings had a 2-on-1 rush early on after a bad turnover by Kris Versteeg, but Brent Seabrook made a diving stop as he blocked a shot over the glass. Jeff Carter also had a chance after Kane turned the puck over, but Crawford stood tall as he made his best save of the game. 

The Blackhawks got a power play chance about eight minutes into the period, but unlike their first period opportunity they couldn't take advantage. Both Kane and Toews whiffed on shots in the early going, and the second unit couldn't force the puck into the zone, killing off the power play and giving the Kings a boost. 

Versteeg continued his poor play on a turnover at the defensive blue line, and the Kings tied things up. Gaborik drove through traffic near the net and put a shot on goal, but after Crawford made the save Dustin Brown was there to pot the rebound as the game was knotted up at 3-3. 

Just a few moments later, the Kings scored again. This time it was Tanner Pearson doing the honors, working his way through the offensive zone and firing a shot that ricocheted off of Hjalmarsson's stick and into the top left corner of the cage as the Kings grabbed a 4-3 advantage. 

The Kings had another chance to extend their lead late in the period when Oduya was sent off for hooking Jeff Carter, but the Hawks were able to keep the game within reach. Crawford made a couple of big saves in the sequence, and even though his blue liners didn't clear traffic out from in front of the net, he kept the score at 4-3 as the period came to an end. 

Early on in the third period, the Blackhawks aggressively came out of the gate looking to tie things up, and they did just that a little over a minute into the frame. Saad carried the puck across the blue line, and fired a low, hard shot at Quick. The Kings goaltender kicked out his left pad to make the save, but Ben Smith was there to collect the rebound and pounded it home to send the United Center crowd into a frenzy. 

After that goal, the pace opened up once again, and both teams got a huge number of quality chances. Carter and Saad each had big shots on goal, but the goaltenders came to play in a big way. Crawford snared down another Carter shot a few minutes later, and Pearson was also robbed on an in close chance. Keith also had a rebound opportunity at the other end, but Quick made the save to keep the game tied. 

The two teams exchanged penalties midway through the third period, with Saad negating a Hawks power play when he was whistled for goaltender interference. Alec Martinez had the best shot on goal out of the two sides in the ensuing 4-on-4 sequence, but Crawford calmly made the save. 

With three minutes remaining in the game, the Blackhawks got a power play when Mitchell flipped a puck over the glass. Despite chances from Kane and Bickell, Chicago couldn't grab the late lead as Quick made some key saves. Crawford responded with a few great saves of his own in the waning seconds, and when the horn sounded the two teams headed to overtime knotted at 4-4.

In the first overtime period, both teams picked up some really high quality chances, but neither side could convert. Marian Hossa and Marcus Kruger each had great opportunities from in close, but Quick made a couple of key saves. For the Kings, King had a shot that Crawford was able to stop, and Gaborik and Carter teamed up for a few more. Finally, Kopitar rifled a shot off the post but it wouldn't go, keeping the game tied after the first overtime. 

As the second period got underway, the Blackhawks seemed to be reeling a bit as the Kings pushed the tempo, but it was Chicago that ultimately got the game-winner. When Michal Handzus forced a turnover in the neutral zone, Saad carried the puck across the blue line. When the Kings collapsed in on him, he dished a pass to Handzus, who flipped a backhanded shot past Quick to give Chicago the 5-4 victory. 

The Blackhawks will have to win again on Friday night to extend the series as the scene shifts back to Los Angeles. The puck will drop at 6pm Pacific time, and the game can be seen on NBCSN. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Kings Down Blackhawks in Game 2, Level Series]]> Wed, 28 May 2014 14:00:19 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/kings-blackhawks-game-2-western-conference-finals-may-21.jpg

The Los Angeles Kings scored six unanswered goals against the Chicago Blackhawks to win Game 2, 6-2, and even their Western Conference Finals series.

The Blackhawks got off to a hot start in the first game of the series, but both teams were pretty evenly matched in the early stages of Game 2. The Jonathan Toews line continued to impress as they not only held the Anze Kopitar line of the Kings in check, but they also generated some quality scoring chances.

As a result of their strong play, the Blackhawks got an early power play when Willie Mitchell was sent to the box for interference. Patrick Sharp had a great shot on goal, but Jonathan Quick made a save. Matt Greene also headed to the box for Los Angeles, and the Hawks got a 5-on-3 power play as a result. Unfortunately for the home side, they weren’t able to convert on either penalty as the Kings buckled down defensively, and the game remained scoreless as a result.

Both goaltenders made a couple of nice saves in the middle stages of the period, with Quick stopping a Bryan Bickell shot despite losing his mask in the sequence, and Corey Crawford made a tremendous stop on a rushing Marian Gaborik. The Kings did end up getting a power play with their renewed push, but they couldn’t get any good chances as the Blackhawks’ forecheck continued to play impressive hockey.

After somehow not getting a goal as Peter Regin crashed into the net mouth, the Blackhawks finally got on the board thanks to the power play. With the Kings trying to recover after a failed 3-on-2 rush, Nick Leddy got in behind the defense and got a breakaway attempt. He lifted a backhanded shot past Quick and into the top shelf of the net, and with less than six minutes remaining in the frame the Hawks had a 1-0 lead.

The Blackhawks did get a power play in the closing stages of the first period, but they weren’t able to convert on it even as it carried over into the second period. A short time later though, they did score a goal to extend their lead to 2-0. Johnny Oduya’s stretch pass eventually found its way onto Ben Smith’s stick, and the American-born forward beat Quick on a short-side shot to make it a two goal lead.

As the period hit its middle stages, the Blackhawks’ forechecking game continued to be the story of the contest as the Kings struggled to get anything going in their transition game. The Blackhawks meanwhile continued to get good opportunities, including a 2-on-1 rush that saw Quick rob Brent Seabrook with a tremendous sprawling save across the crease.

With about two minutes remaining in the second period, the Kings finally got on the board. After a failed pass across the zone, Mike Richards picked up the puck near the goal line and fed a pass to the front of the net. Instead of finding an open Kings player, the puck actually deflected off of Justin Williams’ skate and slowly slid between Crawford’s leg pads and into the net, cutting the Chicago lead to 2-1.

The Kings did get one more good opportunity late in the period when Dustin Brown deflected a shot from the point in on goal. Crawford was up to the task however as he made an athletic save, and through two periods the Blackhawks maintained their one goal advantage.

Early in the third period, the Kings were handed a power play after an ill-advised penalty by Brandon Bollig, and they took immediate advantage. Drew Doughty got the puck at the point off a nice feed from Slava Voynov, and his shot in was deflected by Jeff Carter to tie things up at 2-2. 

Just two and a half minutes later, the Kings had another power play thanks to a too-many-men penalty on Chicago, and they scored again to take the lead. This time it was Jake Muzzin doing the dirty work, collecting a puck along the boards and faking a pass before rifling a shot over Crawford's blocker pad to make it a 3-2 game in favor of the visitors. 

Less than five minutes later, the Blackhawks were caught staring at the puck, and the Kings extended their advantage. Thinking that the puck had bounced off the netting behind the goal, the Hawks' defenders stopped moving, and Tyler Toffoli took advantage as he picked up the puck and fired it past Crawford to make it 4-2. 

In the late stages of the game, the Kings scored two more goals to pull away. Carter skated into the zone on a 2-on-1 rush after a bad pinch by Chicago defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson, and he put a shot past Crawford to give Los Angeles a 5-2 edge. He added an empty net goal a few minutes later to finish off his hat trick, and the Kings cruised from there to a 6-2 victory. 

For now, the Kings will head back to California looking to take control of the series on Saturday night when the two teams meet in Game 3 at Staples Center. The puck drops at 5pm Pacific time, and the game can be seen on NBC. 

Photo Credit: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[LA Kings in the Sochi Olympics]]> Thu, 29 May 2014 08:04:30 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/178*120/kings-ducks-olympics-458901087_10+%283%29.jpg Several Los Angeles Kings players represented their countries at the Sochi Olympics

Photo Credit: Getty]]>
<![CDATA[Kings Beat Blackhawks 5-2 in Game 4]]> Wed, 28 May 2014 14:02:36 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/191*120/lakingsgame4.JPG

The Los Angeles Kings came into Game 4 looking to grab a stranglehold on the Western Conference Final, and with three first period goals they did just that as they knocked off the Chicago Blackhawks by a score of 5-2 on Monday night. 

The win gives the Kings a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series. 

With their lines shuffled up, the Blackhawks came out of the gate in this one full of energy, but they couldn’t quite convert on any of their opportunities. Patrick Kane looked positively gleeful to be paired up with Jonathan Toews and Bryan Bickell, but his speed didn’t translate into shots as the game remained scoreless.

After once again failing to convert on two consecutive power plays (one of which was negated by a penalty on Marian Hossa), the Blackhawks watched as the Kings capitalized on the momentum with a goal of their own. Jeff Carter got the puck in front of the net and cycled it back out to the point, and when he cut back in front of Corey Crawford, Jake Muzzin skated through the slot and blasted a slap shot past the goaltender to give Los Angeles a 1-0 lead.

Just a few minutes later, the Blackhawks made another mistake, and the Kings pounced. Duncan Keith turned the puck over below the goal line to Anze Kopitar, and the Kings’ best defensive forward threaded a great pass to Marian Gaborik, who one-timed the puck past Crawford and gave the Kings a two-goal advantage.

With the Blackhawks reeling, Patrick Sharp continued the parade to the penalty box as he was whistled for a silly offensive zone infraction, and the Kings scored again. This time it was Kings captain Dustin Brown doing the damage, collecting a rebound off a tip from Justin Williams and depositing it into the back of the net to give his team a commanding 3-0 lead.

Fortunately for the Hawks, they were able to get out of the rest of the first period unscathed, but they gave the Kings another opportunity to score early in the second as Andrew Shaw was sent to the penalty box after a silly cross-checking penalty in the offensive zone. The Kings weren’t able to score on this one however, with Crawford making a key save on Carter to keep his team within shouting distance.

Despite the Blackhawks’ predicament, they didn’t show any real sense of urgency as the second period wore on, and eventually the Kings got another insurance goal to add to their total. With Williams and Dwight King getting inside position on Chicago’s blue liners in front of the net, Drew Doughty took advantage of the screen and blasted a slap shot past Crawford to put Los Angeles up by four goals.

A little over a minute later, the Blackhawks finally got on the board. Michal Rozsival made a nice play at the blue line to intercept a clearing attempt from Alec Martinez, and he quickly passed the puck to Brandon Saad, who lifted a backhanded shot over Jonathan Quick’s glove to pull his team within three goals at 4-1.

For the remainder of the period, the Blackhawks continued to press the tempo hard, but once again, indiscipline killed them. After arguably their best sustained possession of the game, Shaw was sent off the ice after another horrendous penalty, this time for holding Doughty’s stick in front of the net. The Kings’ defenseman was sent off as well after taking a couple of punches at the back of Shaw’s head, but neither team could take advantage of the ensuing 4-on-4 as the Kings maintained a three goal edge after two periods.

With a three goal lead, the Kings seemed to retreat into a bit of a defensive shell, but despite the more open ice the Blackhawks couldn't take advantage of it. Bryan Bickell did pick up a shot on a bit of quick puck movement by the first line, but Quick made his biggest save of the game as he kicked out his left leg and pushed the shot aside to keep his team ahead by three goals. 

The Blackhawks seemed to get a bit of a lift from that possession, and they used it to bring themselves to within two goals with a little under 11 minutes remaining in the contest. After a mad netfront scramble that saw Doughty rob Toews with a brilliant stick check in the crease, Bryan Bickell picked up the rebound and backhanded a shot into the net to make it a 4-2 lead for the Kings. 

Despite the late push, the Hawks couldn't come all the way back as the Kings finished things off. Tanner Pearson picked up the empty net goal to seal the contest, and with the tally the Blackhawks suddenly find themselves one game away from elimination. 

Game 5 of the series is scheduled for Wednesday night in Chicago, with puck drop at 5pm Pacific time. The game can be seen on NBCSN. 

Photo Credit: Jeff Gross/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Kings' Three Keys to Victory]]> Wed, 28 May 2014 13:31:53 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/493964521.jpg

The Los Angeles Kings currently find themselves in a situation that they aren’t too familiar with in this postseason as they have an opportunity to eliminate an opponent without fear of being eliminated themselves.

That’s because the Kings currently hold a 3-1 lead in their series against the Chicago Blackhawks, and a win on Wednesday night in Chicago would send them to the Stanley Cup Final for the second time in three seasons. In the first two rounds of the playoffs, the Kings found themselves down 3-0 and 3-2 against the San Jose Sharks and Anaheim Ducks respectively before coming back and winning both series.

Naturally, the Blackhawks aren’t going to roll over and die for anyone, so before the game gets underway tonight, here are our Three Keys to Victory for the Kings as they look to advance.

Go for Early Knockout Blow

In the first three games in this series, the Kings fell behind early to the Blackhawks, losing Game 1 but then winning Games 2 and 3 in comeback fashion. In Game 4, that narrative was flipped on its ear as the Kings scored three first period goals en route to a convincing 5-2 victory to set the stage to potentially eliminate Chicago.

If the Kings are going to win this game, they should do everything in their power to try to set the tempo early on in the contest. The Blackhawks played a largely deflated game after going down by a 3-0 score in that contest, and even though they did get a few chances late in the game to narrow the gap, they were largely rendered a moot point by the Kings’ early success.

Getting the first goal is going to be a key for the Kings in this one, as they not only look to take the Hawks’ crowd out of the game but also try to prevent the defending champions from gathering steam early.

Quick Must be Prepared for Barrage

The Kings may be trying to get off to a great start early in the game, but one thing they can count on is that the Blackhawks will come at them guns blazing throughout the contest.

The Hawks are a team that thrives on moving the puck quickly and creating mismatches with their transition game, and that means that they are never truly out of a game. They will attempt shots from all over the ice and get their defensemen involved in plays on pinches from the blue line, and that can put a lot of pressure on a goaltender.

That’s where Jonathan Quick comes in. He hasn’t been tested a lot in this series, but if he’s going to face a stern test, it’s going to be in this game. The Blackhawks are a team that thrives when they are peppering a goaltender with shots, and Quick has got to be ready for the challenge and respond with the kind of game that he’s historically been able to muster in these situations.

The Second Line Becomes Key Again

With the Chicago Blackhawks’ decision to reunite their top line of Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa, and Bryan Bickell, it’s apparent that the team is going to try to put focus once again on stopping Anze Kopitar’s line from scoring goals.

If that indeed is going to be their strategy, then the Kings’ second line, known as “That ‘70s Line” by just about everyone in the Twitterverse, is going to have to step their game up once again. They torched the Blackhawks during Games 2 and 3, but were relatively quiet in Game 4. Tanner Pearson did score a goal in the contest, but after two straight games of complete dominance, the Hawks finally started to have success against that group.

In this game, they will be tested once again. They pose a matchup nightmare for the Hawks, and if they are moving the puck effectively and getting scoring chances, then they will be in great position to take down this game and advance to the Cup Final.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>