Kings Spectator Lesson: Never, Never Leave Early
Scattered across Southern California today, the hundreds of fans who left Staples Center well before the game was over should be kicking themselves. Hard. Some wouldn’t blame them - the Dallas Stars were smoking the Kings 4-0, and it was Saturday night so perhaps they had amazing plans for after the game.
If it were the latter, I can say with certainty that those postgame appointments should have been blown off or at least delayed. What happened in the last ten minutes of the game has left sportswriters and internet message board fans scrambling for a moniker for the piece of Kings history that remaining fans (and those on TV) witnessed live.
Despite trailing by four goals heading into the final period, the Kings had matched up against the Stars well. Dallas created some great chances that they buried into the net, and the Kings created similar chances that they buried into Stars goaltender Marty Turco. The Kings first game in a week was headed to L-city, and the sellout home crowd wasn't too happy about it.
With less than eight minutes to go, the Kings were a man-up on a power play and couldn't even get a good shot off, even though they were passing the puck all over the Dallas zone trying to set one up. The conservative approach was really pissing the fans off, and just after they died down, a shot trickled between Turco's pads and Dustin Brown finished the job. It must have been a combination of sarcastic cheering and some of the fans believing something special might be coming, for the crowd response seemed a bit more excited than what could be expected for a goal that puts you only three back.
Just over a minute later, a dude who is a healthy scratch half the time hit the ice and set the stadium on fire. Scott Thornton took a drop pass from Michal Handzus and flicked a snap shot from a shitty angle right past Turco. The sarcastic cheers were gone, and I think everybody knew something crazy was setting itself up to happen.
The organist then jumped on the keys to play the goaltender chant - two low notes - and the fans earnestly participated:
The Dallas coach even called timeout to settle everybody down. Not so fast, buddy. Jack Johnson took a shot that bounced off Alexander Frolov's skate, and, all of the sudden, the Kings are down by one.
Guess what happens 24 seconds later? Golden boy Anze Kopitar buries one past Turco, the game is tied, and Staples Center is going ballistic. The broadcast cuts to Anze's face as he sits on the bench, and the kid looks like he is about to win a youth hockey tournament. Astonishment and unbridled joy - it's not too often you see a pro athlete with such a look on his face, and it was pretty damn cool to see.
So the game is all tied up, and a ref spots the Kings a soft penalty against Dallas. Giving the Kings a power play after scoring four goals in under four minutes just seemed to fit the master plan, and Ladislav Nagy masterfully deflected a hard Frolov slap shot past Turco to give the Kings the lead. Hall of Fame broadcaster Bob Miller's voice cracked as he announced this goal, and for the first few sentences after it, his voice was wavering. Five goals in 5:07, a new franchise record. Hope that you guys who left early enjoyed getting out of the parking lot a couple minutes faster.
Stars badass Mike Modano wasn't up for any of this bullshit, and after the refs called a make-up soft penalty against the Kings a minute later, he took matters into his own hands. He skated into the slot, wound up as hard as I've ever seen, and absolutely blasted the puck past Kings goalie J.S. Aubin. Game tied, OT here we come.
Turco wanted to go home, you could see it in his face. Starry-eyed Kopitar allowed for just that. Halfway through the overtime period, he bitched two Stars in the corner, skated right in front of Turco uncontested, and buried a backhander between Turco's legs.
Game over. Absolutely unbelievable.
Check out Bob Miller's postgame recap, with all the goals.
View the Dallas commentators take on the game.
I'd love to provide a little postgame analysis, but after having just watched the replay on FSN Prime Ticket, I got the pins and needles all over again and need to lie down. Go check the LA Times, who put the article on
the cover of the sports page D-fucking-13
Don't leave early.
GO KINGS GO.
AP Photo by Mark Avery