The Los Angeles Kings’ dramatic playoff run, extended by Sunday night’s pulsating 5-4 overtime victory against the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks, has been nothing short of epic.
Here are some facts worth highlighting:
Team Clutch: The Kings are the first team in NHL history to win three Game 7s en route to reaching the Stanley Cup Final. They also won Game 7s in the first round against San Jose [5-1] and second round against Anaheim [6-2]. Only two other teams in Stanley Cup Playoffs history have played the maximum 21 games through the opening three rounds: the 1993 Maple Leafs and 2002 Avalanche, who both lost in the Conference Finals. Only the 2011 Bruins have won three Game 7s in the same playoff year. The Kings, however, are the first to win three Game 7s on the road.
Elite company: When Alec Martinez scored 5:47 into overtime, he joined five others who have sent their teams to the Stanley Cup Final with overtime goals in Game 7. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the others are the 1939 Bruins (Mel Hill), 1950 Red Wings (Leo Reise Jr.), 1968 Blues (Ron Schock), 1979 Canadiens (Yvon Lambert) and 1994 Rangers (Stephane Matteau). Of those five teams, four went on to win the Stanley Cup (lone exception: 1968 Blues).
Seven and seven: Kings forward Justin Williams picked up a goal and an assist in Game 7 against the Hawks, giving him seven goals and seven assists in seven career Game 7s, all of them victories. With his performance, Williams passed Doug Gilmour (13) for the most points in Game 7 history and also tied Glenn Anderson for the most goals in Game 7s. Marian Gaborik and Mike Richards are also a perfect 7-0 in career Game 7s.
When it counts: The Kings’ Marian Gaborik sent Sunday’s game into overtime with his league-leading 12th goal of the postseason [in his 21st game]. He had 11 goals in 41 regular season games, five of which came with the Kings following his acquisition at the trade deadline. Gaborik now is tied with Luc Robitaille (12 goals in 1991) for the second-most goals in one playoff year in Kings history. Only Wayne Gretzky (15 in 1993) has scored more goals for the Kings in a single postseason.
Long way to go: Kings forward Anze Kopitar has 24 points in 21 playoff games this spring and has been held without a point in consecutive games just once since Dec. 21, a span of 67 games. Kopitar has a long way to go to catch Wayne Gretzky, who set the Kings’ playoff record with 40 playoff points [15 goals, 25 assists] in 1993.
Quick draw: Jonathan Quick may have allowed four goals in Game 7, but he turned aside 33 of the 34 shots after the first period and is now a perfect 4-0 in Game 7s with a 2.00 GAA and .940 save percentage.
Look ahead: Beginning Wednesday night at 8 on NBC the Kings will face the Rangers in the 2014 Stanley Cup Final. The clubs have met twice before in the playoffs, with the Rangers winning both series: in the 1979 Preliminary Round (2-0) and 1981 Preliminary Round (3-1). In their six total postseason games, the Rangers have outscored the Kings 32-14.
Been there, done that: The Kings are making their third appearance in the Stanley Cup Final (1993, 2012). They are 1-1 all-time, with their lone championship coming in 2012. The Rangers are making their 11th appearance in the Stanley Cup Final (1928, 1929, 1932, 1933, 1937, 1940, 1950, 1972, 1979, 1994). They are 4-6 all-time, with their most recent championship coming in 1994.
Home ice disadvantage: The Kings will have home-ice advantage in the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in franchise history. They also will have home-ice advantage for just the second time overall since 1992 (23 total series). There now have been 23 total overtime games in the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs (26.1 percent). Road teams are 14-9 (.609) in those games.
New champion: There will be a new Stanley Cup champion for the 15th consecutive season. The last team to repeat were the Detroit Red Wings, who swept the Flyers in 1997 and the Capitals in 1998.