The Kings became the first team to reach the Stanley Cup Final by winning three series in Game 7, all on the road. That journey included coming back from a 3-0 series deficit to the San Jose Sharks in Round 1, rebounding from a 3-2 deficit in Round 2 against the Southern California rival Ducks, and eliminating the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks in overtime after never holding a lead in Game 7. The road to the Kings' second Stanley Cup Final appearance in three seasons:
Jonathan Quick was replaced by rookie Martin Jones after giving up five goals in the first two periods. Jake Muzzin and Slava Voynov scored in the first seven minutes of the third period and Trevor Lewis cut the lead to two with 6:01 left. But that was as close as the Kings got. The Sharks' Brent Burns scored in the final minute of the game to give his team a three-goal win.
The Kings jumped to a 2-0 lead in the first period before giving up seven straight goals. Quick once again struggled but Coach Darryl Sutter let him play the entire game instead of pulling him as he had done in Game 1.
A Patrick Marleau shot deflected off defenseman Voynov and past Quick at 6 minutes and 20 seconds of overtime to give the Sharks the win and push the Kings to the brink of elimination. It was the first time the Kings trailed 3-0 in a series since 2000, when they were eventually swept by Detroit.
Justin Williams scored twice to help the Kings avoid elimination in the first round of the playoffs. Williams, who had been without a point in the first three games of the series, had previously scored twice against the Sharks in Game 7 of their second-round playoff battle in 2013. Marian Gaborik also scored two goals.
Quick made 30 saves to help the Kings stave off elimination for the second time in the series. The shutout was Quick's first in a playoff since last year's second-round series against the Sharks, and it came in San Jose, where the Kings had not won a playoff game since 2011. Tyler Toffoli, Anze Kopitar and Jeff Carter scored goals.
Justin Williams scored his second goal of the night and Kopitar added two as the Kings rode a three-goal third period to victory and forced a Game 7 in San Jose. By doing so, the Kings became the ninth team in NHL history to force a Game 7 after being down 3-0 in a series.
The Kings fell behind when the Sharks' Matt Irwin scored 28 seconds into the second period. Drew Doughty evened things up four minutes later and Kopitar gave the Kings the game-winner with a minute left in the period. Toffoli, Dustin Brown and Tanner Pearson added goals as the Kings became the fourth NHL team to come back from a 3-0 series deficit and set up a crosstown grudge match with the Ducks in the second round of the playoffs.
Gaborik scored with seven seconds left in the third period to tie the score and again 12 minutes into overtime to give the Kings the Game 1 victory. Gaborik became the first player in playoff history to score in the last 10 seconds of regulation and then score the game-winner in overtime. Alec Martinez scored the Kings' first goal at 9:04 of the first period.
Quick had 36 saves to lead the Kings to a Game 2 victory against the Ducks. Gaborik scored 34 seconds into the game to give the Kings the lead but the Ducks' Patrick Maroon would even things up at 9:40. Martinez scored the game-winner at 12:07 of the first period and Dwight King added a third with a minute left.
The Ducks took the lead with a Corey Perry goal 4:06 into the first period and never relinquished it. Carter tied the score 4 minutes and 59 seconds into the second period but Teemu Selanne put the Ducks back on top before the end of the period. Ben Lovejoy gave the Ducks a two-goal cushion in the third period that shielded them from Mike Richards' last-minute goal.
Twenty-year-old rookie goaltender John Gibson made his NHL playoff debut for the Ducks. He made 28 saves in his shutout performance which lifted the Ducks past the Kings to tie the series, 2-2. Two first-period goals were enough to earn the Ducks a Game 4 victory. Devante Smith-Pelly scored at 16:02 in the first period and Ryan Getzlaf scored two minutes later.
Smith-Pelly's two goals in the second period helped stave off a Kings comeback to give the Ducks the victory in Game 5 and the series lead. Gaborik scored two goals, one at 18:42 in the second period and one at 14:12 in the third period, which brought the Kings within 4-3 with six minutes to go. But the Ducks defense, led by Gibson's 39 saves, held strong to secure the win.
Quick had 21 saves and goals by Muzzin and Trevor Lewis gave the Kings just enough to squeeze past the Ducks and force a Game 7 in Anaheim. Muzzin scored 8 minutes and 16 seconds into the first period and Lewis doubled that in the second period. The Ducks' Kyle Palmieri cut the lead to one, scoring at 15:42 in the second period. But the Kings defense, which gave up the fewest goals in the regular season, held them off.
Quick had 25 saves and six different Kings got on the scoreboard as the team routed the Ducks to advance to the conference finals for the third year in a row, where they would face the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks. Chicago eliminated them last year in the conference finals. After giving up four goals on 18 shots, Gibson was replaced by veteran Jonas Hiller two minutes into the second period.
Chicago's Brandon Saad scored 14:46 into the first period to give Chicago the lead. Toffoli tied the score for the Kings at 4:35 in the second period, but then Chicago ran away with a Duncan Keith goal at 11:54 in the second period and a Jonathan Toews score in the third period to give Chicago a 1-0 lead in the series.
The Kings trailed Chicago 2-1 heading into the third period, but the offense came alive with three goals from Carter and one each from Muzzin and Toffoli in the final period to give the Kings a 6-2 win and even the series at one. The victory snapped the Blackhawks' 7-0 home record during this postseason. The Kings also spoiled another statistic for Chicago — the team had not given up more than four goals in a playoff game.
Carter scored once and added two assists in the Kings' victory that gave them a 2-1 series lead. The Kings trailed twice in the first period, 1-0 and then 2-1, both times after goals by Toews, but took the lead in the second period on a Toffoli goal and did not look back. Toffoli and Pearson extended their four-game point-scoring streaks; Pearson with the assist to Carter and Toffoli with a goal at 14:19 of the second period.
Muzzin, Gaborik and Brown scored in the first period to give the Kings an early 3-0 lead. Doughty continued the scoring fest in the second period before Saad finally pulled one back for Chicago. Bryan Bickell got the Blackhawks within two in the third period, but Pearson continued his scoring streak with a goal in the final minutes to give the Kings a 3-1 series lead and bring them within one victory of the Stanley Cup Final.
Michal Handzus, the oldest player on the Blackhawks' roster at 37, backhanded a shot past Quick 2 minutes and 4 seconds into the second overtime to keep Chicago alive. Pearson had given the Kings a 4-3 lead at 13:08 of the second period but Ben Smith tied the score, 4-4, at 1:17 of the third period. The scoring went blank until Handzus' game-winner.
Patrick Kane scored at 16:15 of the third period to lift the Blackhawks over the Kings and force a Game 7 at the United Center. Kane scored two goals and set up a Duncan Keith goal that tied the score at 3-3. Chicago's win set up the Kings' third Game 7 of the postseason.
Martinez's wrist shot at 5:47 of overtime bounced off the body of Blackhawks defenseman Nick Leddy and went past goaltender Corey Crawford, sending the Kings to their second Stanley Cup Final in three years. Gaborik tied the score at 12:43 of the third period after the Kings had battled back from a two-goal deficit in the first period and subsequent one-goal deficits. It was the first time the conference finals were decided in an extra period in 20 years, when the New York Rangers — who the Kings will face in the Stanley Cup Final — defeated the New Jersey Devils. The Kings were 7-0 in elimination games on their run to the Stanley Cup Final.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun