Fans Go Crazy As Kings Sweep St. Louis
A sign on the glass during warmups summed up what Kings fans were feeling: "Finish This." For the first time since 1993 and for only the second time in franchise history, the Kings are in the Conference Finals.
"I really haven't put much thought into it yet," goaltender Jonathan Quick said after making 23 saves on 24 shots. "I'm just kind of enjoying this victory now."
The last time the fans saw the Kings clinch a series at home was that fateful first round upset of the Detroit Red Wings in 2001. And the standing-room only crowd of 18,373 fans at STAPLES Center witnessed the Kings sweep the No. 2 seed St. Louis Blues winning the game 3-1, their first sweep in a seven-game series.
"Obviously it was great deal, a big push, by us to win four in a row against a team like that," Quick noted. "They were great all series long, and it was a hard fought four games here.
"But you heard that fans, how loud they were in the last two minutes there. It gives you goosebumps."
In the final minutes as the Kings were withstanding the best the Blues could muster, they were waving their rally towels. Then as Blues' goalie Brian Elliott was pulled for the extra attacker in the final minute, the volume started to increase as Matt Greene intercepted the puck in the Kings' zone pushing it back out to the point.
You heard it get louder when Anze Kopitar drove the puck to center ice as Brown got behind the two defenders. Once the puck got to Dustin Brown, everyone knew what was to come. Brown made sure to be in the perfect position to bang the empty netter home.
"It was huge," the captain said about that final tally. "They've gone through a stretch here not having much to celebrate about. Today they finally have an opportunity to go nuts."
The players went a little nuts with Kopitar tackling Brown on the boards in a scene of pure jubilation.
"He's been hit many times before that," Kopitar commented. "He'll be fine."
Not everything was easy for the Kings and the fans. There were some anxious moments especially in the second period when the Blues started using that desperation to take the game to the Kings.
"We didnt' have the offensive attack that we wanted in the second, and they were all over us," Brown said. "We found a way to bend but not break, and thatis something this team hasn't relied on but learned how to do that when we need to."
No moment was as big as in the third period when on a four-on-four Quick made the save of the game:
"I think Kopi got a piece of it," Quick admitted. "I didn't think I made it."
It was a far cry from the beginning of the game, when Roman Polak turned the puck over mere feet from netminder Elliott. A trailing Jordan Nolan charged through and scored his first career playoff goal 4:36 into the game.
Then things got quiet when Kevin Shattenkirk tied the game with a near perfect shot from the right cicle, the Blues' first goal from a defenseman in the playoffs. As silent as STAPLES Center got in the minutes that followed, Brown yet again with a equally perfect shot got the fans loud again with a shot from the left circle to give the Kings the 2-1 lead right before the end of the first period.
The Kings became the third eight-seed to make it past the second round and the first to defeat a one- and two-seed. The Kings are 8-1 in the playoffs. They killed all 17 penalties in the series. They've tied a club record of five consecutive playoff games.
The list goes on and on. And so too do the Kings go on and on.