Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday LAKings.com will countdown the Top 15 moments from the LA Kings improbable run to their 2nd Stanley Cup Championship.
The Kings’ unrelenting mental strength and confidence among one another caused a lot of teams to crash and burn right before their eyes during the postseason. That’s what good teams do.
After the Kings snagged a pair of wins in Orange County at Honda Center to open their Western Conference Semifinal series against the Anaheim Ducks, Bruce Boudreau and the organization began to say goodbye to goaltender Jonas Hiller.
Hiller allowed a combined five goals, including an overtime marker in Anaheim’s losses in Games 1 and 2, facing 52 Kings’ shots through the first two games of the series.
For the Ducks, that wasn’t going to cut it. They decided to throw their Rookies under the spotlight instead.
Anaheim went with backup goaltender Fredrick Andersen for Game 3 as the series shifted to STAPLES Center. Andersen, with an impressive performance, went down with an undisclosed lower-body in the third period of Game 3 and was deemed unable to return for the remainder of the series.
Instead of going back to Jonas Hiller for Game 4, who is now a member of the Calgary Flames, the Ducks looked to another Rookie – John Gibson, who had just four games NHL experience at the time.
The kid was phenomenal at the start. The 20 year-old Rookie, who was the 39th overall selection in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, snubbed the Kings’ offense in his first two games, allowing just three goals on 70 combined shots in Games 4 and 5, leading Anaheim to take a 3-2 series lead.
Gibson’s presence had suddenly put the Kings in a hole.
The media hype surrounding Gibson, who had pushed the Ducks to one win within eliminating the Kings from the postseason, didn’t seem to hamper Los Angeles’ locker room or head coach Darryl Sutter.
Heading into Game 6, John Gibson may have been built up a bit too big, too fast, for such an occasion.
“WE HAVEN’T GIVEN HIM OUR BEST YET”
In Game 6, a ‘must-win’ situation for the Kings, they were able to crack Anaheim’s Rookie Gibson twice while Jonathan Quick laid out a phenomenal performance, surrendering only one goal on the Ducks’ 22 shots en route to a 2-1 Kings victory to send the series to a Game 7.
Trevor Lewis pinched home the game-winner; beating Gibson through the wickets, proving that Anaheim’s hot young commodity was not impossible to beat.
LEWIS IN THE NEWS
“HE’S THE BEST GOALIE I’VE EVER SEEN”
“I’D TAKE QUICKIE OVER HIM ANY DAY”
In the series’ decisive Game 7 at Honda Center, John Gibson was ripped to shreds. The Ducks’ Rookie tender lasted just 22:02 minutes in the crease for Anaheim, allowing four goals on 18 shots.
The kid had no idea what was coming.
To be fair, the Kings were on a warpath, and simply smelled fresh blood.
Anze Kopitar, scoring his fifth goal of the playoffs, sent John Gibson to Anaheim’s bench just over two minutes into the second period, giving the Kings a commanding 4-0 lead. Jonas Hiller would play his final minutes in a Ducks uniform, thereafter.
ANZE AND OUT
The Kings eventually won the game 6-2, and the series, advancing to the Western Conference Final for the third straight season, slated to play the Chicago Blackhawks.