Los Angeles. Playing in a city steeped in a rich history of championship franchises, the Los Angeles Kings are one victory away from finally taking their place at the top of an elite sports town.
The Kings shut out the New Jersey Devils 4-0 on Monday to take a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven National Hockey League final series and pull tantalizingly close to their first ever Stanley Cup.
“It’s pretty safe to say that this has been a Lakers town, and rightfully so,” long-time Kings winger Dustin Brown said, referring to the storied NBA franchise. “LA is one of those towns where if you want to get noticed you have to win. Having the opportunity to win a championship here relieves a lot of frustration for a lot of people.”
The Los Angeles Lakers bask in the glow of their 16 championship banners, while the Dodgers remain one of baseball’s most treasured organizations.
Even the Los Angeles Angels can claim higher ground than the Kings, having clinched baseball’s World Series in 2002.
The Kings’ Stanley Cup Final appearance is their first in 19 years, capping a prolonged period of losing seasons and quick exits from the playoffs.
Their remarkable playoff run has all the hallmarks of a Hollywood script, starting the post-season as the eighth and final seed in the Western Conference but tearing through the competition like a hurricane.
Monday’s domination of the Devils was the latest display of their stunning emergence. With goaltender Jonathan Quick continuing to out-duel Martin Brodeur, the most successful netminder in NHL history, the Kings sparked cheers of “We want the Cup!” from the Staples Center crowd.
“It gives you goose bumps,” Quick said. “The whole playoffs [the crowd] has been like that. It’s a boost of confidence. They have waited a long time to see us play in the finals and it’s great for the organization and the diehard fans.”
Quick made 22 saves in his third shutout of the postseason, and Anze Kopitar had a goal and an assist.
Alec Martinez scored the opening goal for the Kings, and Jeff Carter and Justin Williams added late power-play goals.
New Jersey has been pretty good in the finals, but nothing has been able to slow down these Kings, who seem destined to become the first No. 8 seed to win the Stanley Cup. The Kings could celebrate their first title at home today, but their only weakness in this charmed postseason has been Game 4. They’re 10-0 on the road in the postseason, but failed to close out Vancouver and Phoenix at home in Game 4s.