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Kings' Brown steps up with double-OT winner

by Curtis Zupke

LOS ANGELES -- Whenever Dustin Brown is asked to reflect on his regular season, he's owned up to it and admitted that it wasn't up to his standards, at least up until the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

He was invisible on a lot of nights and hardly the wrecking-ball factor that he was during the 2012 Stanley Cup run. But, like the Los Angeles Kings, Brown is making up for it when it counts the most.

Brown capped the second-longest game in franchise history when he deflected defenseman Willie Mitchell's shot from the left point into the net at 10:26 of second overtime to give Los Angeles a 5-4 win against the New York Rangers in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final on Saturday at Staples Center.

The Kings will take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-7 series into Game 3 on Monday night at Madison Square Garden (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS) thanks to Brown's first career overtime goal in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Brown was a microcosm of the Kings, who twice had to erase a two-goal deficit but came out on top because of their captain.

"We all know what type of player he is," center Jarret Stoll said. "It's pretty black-and-white: hard, physical, leads by his play. He's a big part of our team, a huge part of our team. No other guy should have the ‘C' on his jersey, that's for sure. Big goals, big plays, big games. He does it all."

It was Brown's second shot on goal of the game, but he also helped the Kings hem in the Rangers for Marian Gaborik's game-tying goal in the third period. Brown finished with six hits in 26:21 of ice time.

That's what Brown was known for in 2012, when his freight-train hit on Henrik Sedin of the Vancouver Canucks in the Western Conference Quarterfinals set the tone for the Kings' postseason. What is forgotten is that, up until that year's NHL Trade Deadline, Brown had been having an awful season and the Kings reportedly were trying to move him.

This season wasn't quite as dire, but Brown, like teammate Mike Richards, slowly turned it around and made timely contributions. Brown scored the game-winning goal in Game 4 of the conference final, had a goal and an assist in Game 5, an assist in Game 6 and two more assists in Game 7.

Saturday was another example of leading by example. The game-winning goal was Brown's sixth in Stanley Cup play.

"Hard-nosed player who goes out and gives it his all every night," Mitchell said. "He's not a rah-rah guy, but he works his [butt] off. Plays hard, hits hard and to be honest, he's a tough guy to go against. I played against him. You don't like playing against him. That's our captain. That's our leader. We'd like to think that's a bit of the identity of our team too.

"When you have your captain and your leader having that identity, it trickles down to the rest of the hockey club."

This march to the Cup couldn't be much more different than 2012 for the Kings, who have trailed 2-0 in five of the past nine games but are 4-1 in those games. Through it all, Brown, often the most well-spoken of the Kings, talked about how they've been able to overcome continual poor starts. On Saturday, he was out in front of how that hasn't rattled them.

"I'm not really that concerned because I understand that we can't do it, but I also understand the type of guys we have in our room," Brown said. "I know we've been through a lot of emotional ups and downs. Again, I'm confident in our group, that we can sort it out and figure it out … we're aware of the type of team we are, how good we can be. It's just a matter of resetting, reloading and dialing it in for Game 3."

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