The LA Kings won the Stanley Cup after a 6-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils on Monday night at Staples Center.
It was as convincing as it was surprising for the Kings, who squeezed into the final playoff spot, then upset the first-place Vancouver Canucks in the first round before dispatching St. Louis, Phoenix and, finally, New Jersey.
“It’s pretty amazing,” forward Jeff Richards said after the game. “You don’t know how you’re going to feel until you actually do it.”
Los Angeles won the best-of-seven National Hockey League championship series in six games; it’s the first NHL title for the Kings, who joined the league 45 years ago.
An early, first-period boarding penalty allowed LA to cement victory in Game 6 before a raucous, star-studded, sold-out crowd.
The referee gave New Jersey forward Steve Bernier a five-minute, major boarding penalty after he smashed LA defenceman Rob Scuderi into the boards behind goalie Jonathan Quick.
Dustin Brown, Jeff Carter and Trevor Lewis all scored as Bernier stewed inside the penalty box and Bernier nursed a bloody lip and forehead.
Carter and Lewis scored again later in the game, and Matt Greene added the sixth for Los Angeles in the dying minutes.
Adam Henrique replied for the Devils, who were outshot 25-16.
Quick, who had to make just 15 saves, earned the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff most valuable player.
He was instrumental in the championship run, helping LA win an astonishing 10 straight road games in the post-season.
“You can’t say enough about this group and how hard they worked,” Quick said during the post-game press conference. “It’s an honor to be on this team, and I’m glad to be a part of it.”
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Overall, Los Angeles won 16 playoff games and lost just four.
That’s not bad for a hockey club that ended the regular season eighth place in the Western Conference.
Kings coach Darryl Sutter celebrated a special anniversary the best possible way by hoisting the cup.
He earned his first coaching job 20 years ago Monday when the Chicago Blackhawks hired him.
He lasted three seasons before moving on to San Jose and Calgary; LA hired him midway through this season.
Sutter, one of six brothers to play in the NHL, had not coached in six years and was working on his ranch in Alberta, Canada, when the Kings offered him the job.
“These guys have been so good,” Sutter said. “It’s the leadership, with the young guys listening and staying in the moment, and that’s all we talked about.”
The crowd, almost 18,860 strong, chanted, “We want the cup” as the clock expired.
Among the more notable faces were soccer star David Beckham and wife Victoria, actors Matthew Perry, James Gandolfini, Zac Efron, Alyssa Milano, Melanie Griffith, and Ellen Page, and musicians LL Cool J and Dave Grohl.
The crowd spilled outside Staples Center into LA Live, where police made several arrests.
A woman was reportedly hit in the face by a skateboard, and some small fires had to be extinguished, the Los Angeles Times said.