LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 06: Dustin Brown #23 of the Los Angeles Kings celebrates his goal with Jonathan Quick #32 for a 3-1 lead during the last minute of the third period in Game Four of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Staples Center on May 6, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. The Kings won the series 4-0. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
It took 19 years, but the Kings have made it back to the Western Conference finals. They did so in improbable fashion, completing a sweep of the very strong #2 ranked Blues. Can you believe this is happening?
Full marks to St. Louis -- this series was a hell of a lot closer than the four game span suggests. Though the Kings dominated possession in the first period, taking a 2-1 lead off of a timely goal by Jordan Nolan and a beauty of a top-shelf snipe by Dustin Brown, the Blues took control in the second period and pressured them to the limit. The Kings leaned heavily on Quick and the defense once again, managing to hang on to a slim lead in their worst overall performance of the series. Though they limited St. Louis to only 24 shots, they were out-shot in the final two periods by a whopping 20-9.
In the end, they survived. Quick turned in yet another incredible performance, earning a raucous chant of "MVP" from the ecstatic crowd. They caught a break when one of the Blues' shots deflected off a skate and rang off the crossbar. Kopitar prevented what looked like a certain goal by beating Pietrangelo to a loose puck in the crease and tucking it under Quick's arm. They escaped the barrage with a one goal lead intact, and when Kopitar chipped the puck ahead to Brown in the waning seconds of the game, he was able to pot the empty-netter and put the series away.
Game highlights and video after the jump.
Finally, let's relive the final two minutes of the game. The atmosphere at Staples Center was electric:
In the post-game interviews, each player made a point of saying the job was only half done. Winning two rounds wasn't enough for them --they're focused on challenges ahead. That kind of attitude is music to my ears. For now, though, I'm going to take a moment savor this. We've been through some lean years, but moments like these make it all worth it.
Jonathan Quick (@JonathanQuick32) May 7, 2012
I may have watched that last clip at least twenty times.
I love Brown. I love Kopitar. I love Quick. I love this team.
I'm not crying...it's just raining on my face.