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Six is lucky number for Kings

by John Kreiser

Not only did the Los Angeles Kings win the first Stanley Cup in franchise history, they found a way to do it that no team had ever done before.

L.A.'s 6-1 victory against the New Jersey Devils on Monday night gave the Kings their first championship since entering the NHL in 1967. The Kings became the first team ever to win the first three games of the Final, lose the next two and take the Cup by winning Game 6. Of the previous 25 teams to take a 3-0 lead, 20 finished off the sweep, three needed five games to win, the 1945 Toronto Maple Leafs won in seven and the 1942 Detroit Red Wings lost in seven -- the only time that's happened in the Final.

The Kings also became the lowest-seeded team to take home the Cup -- they were 13th in the overall standings during the regular season. Before this year, the lowest-seeded team to win it all was the 1995 Devils, who were ninth -- just as they were this season. L.A. also became the first No. 8 seed to win the Cup since the current format was adopted in 1994.

Los Angeles became the first team since 2007 to win the Cup at home -- the Anaheim Ducks did it five years ago by beating Ottawa -- and ended a four-game losing streak by teams that had a chance to win the Cup in front of their own fans.


Fast starts pay off -- The Kings' victory marked the 18th consecutive Final game in which the team that scored first went home with the win. That includes all six this year, all seven in the Boston-Vancouver series last spring and the last five between Philadelphia and Chicago in 2010 -- the Flyers scored first in Game 1, a 6-5 Chicago victory, and are the last team to open the scoring but lose the game.

In all, the Kings won 11 of the 12 games this spring in which they scored first. Overall, teams that got the first goal this spring went 61-25, a .709 winning percentage -- a jump from the regular season, when the team that scored first won 67.5 percent of the time.

The Kings also won all nine games this spring when they led after two periods; teams that led after 40 minutes went 49-7 (.857) in the playoffs

Joining the club -- The Kings became the 18th franchise among the 30 that are active to have won the Stanley Cup. They are the fourth of the "Second Six" -- the teams that entered the NHL in the 1967 expansion -- to win the Cup. Only the St. Louis Blues, who made the Stanley Cup Final in their first three seasons but not since then -- have failed to win the Cup (the Oakland Seals, one of the six teams that entered the NHL in 1967, merged with the Minnesota North Stars in 1978).

The Blues, who entered the NHL 45 years ago, and the Toronto Maple Leafs, who last won it all in the spring of 1967, share the longest active Cup drought.

Turnabout -- The three power-play goals scored by the Kings on the major penalty to Steve Bernier in the first period in Game 6 continued a surprising trend that helped sink the Devils.

The Devils' biggest strength during the regular season -- their penalty-killing -- turned into a major liability in the playoffs. After allowing just 27 goals and killing off a record 89.6 of opposition power plays during the 82-game regular season, the Devils surrendered 22 PPGs in just 82 attempts during their 24 postseason games. That includes six in 20 attempts (30.0 percent) for the Kings in the Final -- L.A. had been just 6-for-74 on the power play in the first three rounds before matching that total in six games against the Devils.

Jonathan Quick
Jonathan Quick
Goalie - LAK
RECORD: 16-4-0
GAA: 1.41 | SVP: 0.946
The Devils also led the NHL during the regular season with 15 shorthanded goals. But the playoffs were a different story: New Jersey scored just once while shorthanded -- and that came into an empty net to wrap up a 4-1 win at Philadelphia in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

Not quite good enough -- New Jersey won four times in a "win-or-go-home" scenario this spring before coming up short on Monday. That matches last year's Bruins, the 1971 Montreal Canadiens, the '64 and '42 Toronto Maple Leafs and the 1950 Detroit Red Wings for the most wins in a single playoff year when facing elimination. The Devils are the only one of that group that didn't win the Cup.

Shutdown D -- How good were the Kings defensively this spring? They surrendered just 30 goals in 20 games -- the same number that Pittsburgh allowed in its six-game loss to Philadelphia in the opening round. And as good as goaltender Jonathan Quick was (1.41 goals-against average, .946 save percentage), he got plenty of help from his teammates -- Quick faced an average of just 26.9 shots per game, and just 22.2 in the six-game Final.

The average of 4.00 goals per game (24 in six games) was the lowest since 2004, when the Tampa Bay Lightning and Calgary Flames combined for 27 (3.86 per game) in the Bolts' seven-game victory.

That's a wrap -- Some final numbers for this year's 86 playoff games:

One-goal games -- 50 (one short of the record set in 2007).

Overtime games -- 25 (third all-time; there were 28 in 1993 and 26 in 2001)

Road victories -- 47 (the most ever in one playoff year).

Shutouts -- 15 (14 individual); three goalies, including L.A.'s Jonathan Quick, shared the lead with three

Most points -- L.A's Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown were tops with 20.

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