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Greatest Games: Los Angeles Kings – Finally, The Crown

Nearly a half-century after introducing the NHL to California, the Kings claim hockey’s biggest prize.

No. 1 – June 11, 2012 – Los Angeles 6, New Jersey 1

For 45 years, the Kings were an unworthy heir to the throne. But decades as dilettantes were purged in a commanding 16-4 run in the 2012 playoffs, the unlikely crowning coming in the form of a raucous 6-1 Cup-clinching win over the Devils that was both exorcism and coronation.

With multi-generational torment hanging over the Staples Center, the Kings’ 3-2 series lead felt precarious. New Jersey had won Games 4 and 5, and a Devils win in Game 6 would send the series back east for a one-game showdown.

But midway through the first period, New Jersey’s Steve Bernier took a major penalty when he hit Rob Scuderi from behind and, like magic, hockey sticks turned to scepters. Dustin Brown, Jeff Carter and Trevor Lewis scored on the power play to give L.A. a 3-0 lead, and the NHL’s longtime jesters took on the appearance of aristocracy. Down 4-1 in the third, the Devils pulled Martin Brodeur, but Lewis scored his second goal of the game into an empty net at 16:15, and the miracle of ice existing in Los Angeles finally made sense.

Sorry Al Michaels, but as a Kings season-ticket holder, we’re sure you will understand. For Kings fans, the greatest call in hockey history wasn’t uttered in upstate New York in 1980, but instead in downtown Los Angeles, 32 years later, and yes, it was miraculous.

The words voiced by Doc Emrick in the waning moments of a decisive win that brought the Stanley Cup to the NHL’s original non-traditional market for the first time were elegant, surreal and worth the nearly half-century wait. “The Kings,” Emrick said, “are the kings.”

No. 2 – June 13, 2014 – Los Angeles 3, NY Rangers 2 (2OT)
Alec Martinez scored in double OT of Game 5 to deliver the Kings’ second Cup. This time, they only had to wait two years instead of 45.

No. 3 – June 2, 2014 – Los Angeles 5, Chicago 4 (OT)
Alec Martinez scored in OT of Game 7 to oust the defending champs and send the Kings back to the Cup final. Two weeks later, he scored an even bigger goal.

GREATEST INDIVIDUAL PERFORMANCES OF ALL-TIME

Wayne Gretzky
May 29, 1993 – Los Angeles 5, Toronto 4
It has been 26 years, but the numbers still tell the story: 7/99/3. In Game 7 of the Campbell Conference final at Toronto, Gretzky’s hat trick carried the Kings to the Stanley Cup final.

The 32-year-old Gretzky struggled in the first six games of the series but played what he considers his greatest NHL game, scoring in all three periods of a 5-4 win. “I didn’t want to be remembered as the guy who didn’t play well in the semis versus Toronto,” Gretzky said. He is now remembered for the greatest performance in Kings history (among other things).

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