The Los Angeles Kings won the Stanley Cup late Friday, beating the New York Rangers 3-2 in double overtime to seize their second NHL championship in three seasons.
Alec Martinez scored the game-winner with 5:17 remaining in the second overtime to seal the victory.
Kings left wing Kyle Clifford fired a shot from the top of the right circle that Tyler Toffoli tipped before Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist turned it aside with his right pad.
The rebound bounced to the low left side, where Martinez was waiting to fire it home.
“Toffoli had a great shot, far pad, and fortunately the rebound came to me and I was able to put it in,” said Martinez, who also scored the overtime game-winner against the Chicago Blackhawks in game seven of the Western Conference finals.
“It was a great play by them,” Martinez said. “I’m just the benefactor.”
The Kings won the best-of-seven title series four-games-to-one, adding the crown to the club’s first championship captured in 2012.
The Kings had led the series 3-0. They were denied a four-game sweep when the Rangers won 2-1 at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday to send the series back to Los Angeles, where the Kings completed an unlikely title run with another gritty win.
The Kings were the first team in NHL history to reach the Stanley Cup finals with three game-seven victories on the road.
They went the distance against San Jose in the opening round, won the last two games against Anaheim in the second round and downed the defending champion Blackhawks in seven games to win the West.
“What we went through to get to this point is unique. Obviously every Stanley Cup is special in its own way, but we really had to earn this one,” said Justin Williams, who gave the Kings a 1-0 lead just 6:04 minutes into the first period on Friday.
His ninth goal of the playoffs, to go with 16 assists, earned Williams the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player of the post-season.
But the Kings, who had to rally for overtime victories in games one and two against the Rangers, soon had to demonstrate their resilience again.
Second-period goals from forwards Chris Kreider and Brian Boyle gave the Rangers a 2-1 lead, Kreider scoring on a power play with 4:23 left in the second and Boyle notching a short-handed goal with 30 seconds left.
– Digging deep –
Los Angeles poured on the pressure in the third period and forward Marian Gaborik knotted the score at 2-2 with a power-play goal with 12:04 left in the third.
After Rangers left wing Mats Zuccarello was sent off for tripping, Kings defenseman Drew Doughty fired a shot that Lundqvist stopped.
The rebound fell in the crease and Gaborik slotted the puck between Lundqvist’s legs for the equalizer — his league-leading 14th goal of the post-season.
An action-packed first overtime period had fans at Staples Center on their feet, but neither team could break through.
New York defenseman Ryan McDonagh and the Kings’ Toffoli had the best chances in the first overtime, McDonagh hitting the post with one shot and Toffoli seeing one rattle off the crossbar.
“We knew it was going be a tough series,” Martinez said. “There were a lot of guys who have been around from a couple of years ago. We know the fourth one is definitely the hardest one to get.
“We just had to dig deep and just keep grinding away. We believed that we were going to win this game.”