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Cullen: Kings capture second Stanley Cup in three years

Scott Cullen
6/14/2014 2:37:19 AM
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Alec Martinez scored at 14:43 of double overtime to give the Los Angeles Kings a 3-2 win over the New York Rangers in Game Five of the Stanley Cup Final, taking the series in five games, with three of the wins coming in overtime.

Martinez, the 26-year-old defenceman enjoyed a breakthrough season, scoring a career-high 11 goals and 22 points in 61 regular season games, then followed up with five goals and five assists in 25 playoff games and was one of three Kings to have at least 75.0% of the 5-on-5 shot attempts during Game Five.

The Kings earned the win in Game Five, outshooting the Rangers 51-30, but with that many shots, both teams had opportunities. Each team found iron a couple of times in the extra frames, but the Kings controlled play, particularly after the first period. Shot attempts were even after one, but the Kings had 68.8% of the total shot attempts from the start of the second period onward and that relentless attack finally paid off when Tyler Toffoli's rebound landed on Martinez's stick.

It was a sensational run for the Kings, rallying from multi-goal and multi-game deficits throughout the postseason, winning their last four overtime games on the way to the Cup.

Kings RW Justin Williams, who scored the first goal of the game, won the Conn Smythe Trophy, finishing tied for second in the playoff scoring race with 25 points (9 G, 16 A) in 25 playoff games, scoring two goals and five assists in the Final, when he was skating on what was ostensibly the Kings' third line. Williams had the best plus-minus in the postseason (plus-13) as he was on for 23 goals for and 10 against during 5-on-5 play. Williams had a game-high eight shots and 12 shot attempts in Game Five.

Williams was a deserving winner, on a team full of viable candidates. D Drew Doughty was a stalwart, finishing with 18 points, while averaging 28:45 of ice time per game.

C Anze Kopitar was the playoffs' leading scorer, with 26 points (5 G, 21 A), one point ahead of Jeff Carter, who anchored That 70s Line, with rookies Tanner Pearson and Tyler Toffoli on his wings. For their part, Toffoli and Pearson had the best possession stats for the Kings in the playoffs, and offered a glimpse at what could be a formidable line in the future. Pearson and Toffoli combined for 26 points (14 for Toffoli, 12 for Pearson) in the playoffs.

Former Ranger Marian Gaborik, who tied Game Five early in the third period, led the playoffs with 14 goals, four more than Carter. Acquired from Columbus at the trade deadline, for Matt Frattin and a couple of draft picks, Gaborik was a difference-maker for a Kings team that was having trouble scoring goals.

Rangers G Henrik Lundqvist stopped 48 of 51 shots in the deciding game, finishing the playoffs witha .927 save percentage. It was a terrific effort that ultimately came up short. Kings G Jonathan Quick wasn't at his best in the playoffs -- his .911 save percentage was well below his past couple postseasons -- but with the Kings controlling play in the Final, Quick needed to be good, not great.

Rangers D Ryan McDonagh had an assist and played a game-high 42:12 in Game Five and led the Rangers in playoff scoring with 17 points (4 G, 13 A); this after going scoreless in the first 10 games of the playoffs. He hit the post on a great power play opportunity in overtime. Close, but no dice for the Rangers.

Rookie LW Chris Kreider scored the Blueshirts' second goal in Game Five and was one of their most dangerous forwards throughout the playoffs, registering 13 points (5 G, 8 A) in 15 games. Kreider's speed and physical game make him a threat, though it remains to be seen just how high his offensive ceiling may go.

The story of disappointment for the Rangers lands on RW Rick Nash, who managed a total of three goals, despite registering 83 shots on goal, in the playoffs. That leaves Nash in rather select company of forwards that have had more than 70 shots on goal in a playoff year and scored three or fewer goals; the list includes Marian Hossa this year as well as Jonathan Toews and Tyler Seguin last year. Basically, this doesn't mean that Nash has forever forgotten how to score goals. That he finished seventh in the league in Goals/60 during the regular season is also evidence that Nash hasn't completely lost that skill. It was a bad time to go through that goal-scoring drought.

In the end, the league's best puck possession team hoists the Stanley Cup and looks like they'll have the horses to mount a strong defence next season. That the Final only went five games this year doesn't quite do justice to the tension involved in the series, with the Kings taking three games in overtime (two in double-OT) to dispose of the Rangers.

These Kings didn't do it the easy way, needing seven games to win each of their first three series, but that heightened drama made for a satisfying conclusion to a brilliant postseason.

Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook.




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