Jeff Carter’s hat trick in Game 2 vs. Chicago, May 21: The defending champion Blackhawks won Game 1 handily, turning misplays into goals and then built a 2-0 lead in the early moments of the second period of Game 2. Carter led the Kings’ comeback with three third-period goals in a 6-2 victory that changed the course of the series and put the Kings on a path to the Stanley Cup Final.
Here’s the draft order for the first round, to be held June 27 in Philadelphia:
1. Florida, 2. Buffalo, 3. Edmonton, 4. Calgary, 5. N.Y. Islanders, 6. Vancouver, 7. Carolina, 8. Toronto, 9. Winnipeg, 10. Ducks (from Ottawa),
11. Nashville, 12. Phoenix, 13. Washington, 14. Dallas, 15. Detroit, 16. Columbus, 17. Philadelphia, 18. Minnesota, 19. Tampa Bay, 20. San Jose,
21. St. Louis (conditional to Buffalo), 22. Pittsburgh, 23. Colorado, 24. Ducks, 25. Boston, 26. Montreal, 27. Chicago, 28. Tampa Bay, 29. Kings, 30. New Jersey.
The Kings on Wednesday took a step toward planning for the day Darryl Sutter is no longer their coach. Sutter and general manager Dean Lombardi announced assistant John Stevens was promoted to the new job of associate head coach, an indication he’s in line as Sutter’s replacement. What’s more, assistant coach Davis Payne and goaltending coach Bill Ranford were given new contracts.
“Our coaching staff has been an integral part of the success of our team the last three years,” Lombardi said in a statement. “We are extremely pleased that they will remain part of our team and continue together as we strive for excellence.”
Jonathan Quick’s penalty-shot save on Corey Perry in Game 7 vs. the Ducks, May 16: The Kings took an early 2-0 lead, but Perry was awarded a penalty shot and as the Honda Center crowd roared, it would take only a flick of the wrist for the Ducks to get back into the game. Quick denied Perry, however. The Kings’ Mike Richards scored a little more than a minute later and Game 7 was all but history. Quick wasn’t as sharp as he was during the Kings’ run to the Cup in 2012, but he made some huge saves when called upon in ’14. This was one of the biggest.
Jake Muzzin’s daring dash to score the first goal in Game 6 vs. the Ducks, May 14: The Ducks won three consecutive games after dropping the first two in the first playoff series between the Southern California rivals at the Honda Center. Muzzin’s goal midway through the first period, set the Kings back on a winning course. Their defense and goaltending enabled them to tie the series at 3-all with a 2-1 win.
Justin Williams’ tiebreaking goal in Game 4 vs. San Jose, April 24: Williams would go on to win the Conn Smythe Trophy as the MVP of the playoffs. He made one big play after another during the postseason, and this was no exception. His goal late in the second period gave the Kings a 3-2 lead en route to a 6-3 victory over the Sharks that ignited an improbable comeback in the first-round series. Williams finished the playoffs with 25 points (nine goals, 16 assists) in 26 games, including seven points (two goals, five assists) in the Stanley Cup Final against New York.
The mood wasn’t as dour or defeatist as one might have expected after the Kings fell behind the San Jose Sharks three games to none following a 4-3 overtime loss in Game 3 on April 22 at Staples Center. The Kings refused to hold a pity party despite their dire situation.
“It’s pretty self-explanatory,” Kings center Anze Kopitar said calmly after the game. “We’re down 3-0. Every piece to this puzzle is going to have to give it their all. We’re going to have to come out and throw everything we have at them and see what happens.”
If there was one turning point for the Kings, one significant moment above all the rest in their road to the Stanley Cup championship, then this was it. If their defiance, their unwillingness to bend to the pressure or to accept defeat was rooted in one statement, then this was it.
Here’s what Kings coach Darryl Sutter had to say about the difference between this Stanley Cup championship and the one in 2012:
“We did it a different way in ”11-’12. That’s something that I don’t think could ever happen again if you go back to that because of winning as a road team all the time. This year was totally different. A lot of new players in our lineup. We knew we had to, at some point … during the Olympics, I always thought about this, ‘How are we going to beat Chicago? How are we going to beat Chicago?’ Dean got Gaborik. We were able to put some kids in, go from there, so … ”
Sutter referred to Kings general manager Dean Lombardi’s move to acquire Marian Gaborik from the Columbus Blue Jackets at the NHL trade deadline March 5.
The Kings’ victory parade will begin at noon at the corner of 5th Street and Figueroa in downtown Los Angeles and then make the trek to Staples Center and L.A. Live. The players, coaches, staff, broadcasters, and assorted others will ride on double-decker buses. The parade is expected to last between 30 and 45 minutes and will be followed by a rally at 1 p.m. inside Staples Center.