LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Kings were crowned National Hockey League champions after a convincing 6-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils on Monday that landed the 45-year old franchise its first Stanley Cup.
After failing to clinch their maiden championship in the previous two games of the series, the Kings settled any nerves with three first period goals while Steve Bernier was serving a game-misconduct penalty for a hit that left Rob Scuderi with blood pouring from his mouth.
“It’s a little hectic right now, I’m getting pulled all over the place but this is pretty amazing,” said Kings forward Mike Richards. “You don’t know how it’s going to feel until you actually do it.”
Los Angeles wasted no time making the Devils pay for the Bernier penalty with captain Dustin Brown, Jeff Carter and Trevor Lewis all scoring in a span of less than four minutes to leave New Jersey in a 3-0 hole.
The Kings kept their foot on the Devils’ throats as Jeff Carter scored his second goal of the game 90 seconds into an ill-tempered second period that saw New Jersey’s frustrations result in a string of penalties.
Rookie forward Adam Henrique gave the Devils some hope at forcing a decisive seventh game in the series when he scored with 75 seconds to play in the second period to spoil Jonathan Quick’s shutout bid.
The goal, however, could not spoil the party as the Kings added two more goals in the third period to clinch the series 4-2, touching off a raucous celebration for the home crowd that spilled onto the streets surrounding the Staples Center.
With the Stanley Cup and its white gloved entourage in the building, the champagne on ice and a long-suffering fan base ready to celebrate the end of a long championship drought, the countdown was on as the sellout crowd entered full party mode.
As the final seconds ticked off the clock, Kings netminder Jonathan Quick, who was named the Conn Smythe Trophy winner as the most valuable player on the playoffs, tossed his gloves and stick into air as his team mates poured onto the ice.
“The guys did an unbelievable job,” said Kings coach Darryl Sutter, who took over behind the bench midway through the season after the team’s slow start.
“These guys have been so good with leadership and with the young guys listening and staying right in the moment that’s all we talked about.”