Welcome back to the Last Word on Hockey’s summer series where we look at the biggest game in team history. Each day we will be back with a new team to look at. Looking at things like the lead-up, what happened, followed, and why it makes it the biggest game. The biggest game does not automatically mean a win, either. Sometimes, it can be a loss that set the franchise back massively. Sit back and enjoy as we break down all 31 teams’ most important game. In this article, we will discuss the Los Angeles Kings biggest game in franchise history. The full series is found here.
Los Angeles Kings Biggest Game in Franchise History
The Los Angeles Kings began their quest to be the fairytale franchise in hockey 52 years ago. Based in Los Angeles, it was tough for the Kings to be the literal kings of the hockey world. Other expansion franchises during this era in the league were able to get to the Stanley Cup Final rather quickly. That was not the case for the Kings though.
The Kings had to wait 26 years to get their first taste of the Stanley Cup Final. In 1993, the Kings led by legendary captain Wayne Gretzky and Kings legend Luc Robitaille made their first trip to the Final. Unfortunately, the Montreal Canadiens won that series in five games. Before this Cup Final trip, the Kings could not seem to find playoff success despite boasting legendary players like the Triple Crown line of Marcel Dionne, Dave Taylor, and Charlie Simmer along with Hall of Fame goalie Rogie Vachon.
After that 1993 Stanley Cup Playoff run, the Kings had to wait another 19 years to make it back to the Final. After another long wait, they won their first-ever Stanley Cup. The eighth-seeded Kings team upset higher seeds in every round to win the cup. However, neither of these remarkable and historic runs contain the highlighted game of this franchise.
In 2012, Los Angeles managed to win the Cup while losing only four playoff games. They are still the only team to get a 3-0 series lead in each of their four playoff series. They are also the only team to go 11-1 on the road in the playoffs. It was such a great run that it wouldn’t be fair to pick up one game to be the best in the Kings franchise history.
Los Angeles Kings Biggest Game
The Los Angeles Kings biggest game in the franchise history is Game 7 of the 2014 Western Conference Final.
After winning their first-ever Stanley Cup in 2012, the Kings were on top of the hockey world. An NHL lockout reduced the season to just 48 games in 2013, and some of the Kings players were able to enjoy the Stanley Cup celebrations a bit longer as usual. However, in January 2013, it was time to get back to work.
Chasing the Chicago Blackhawks
In the first two rounds in 2013, the Kings managed to eliminate the St. Louis Blues and the San Jose Sharks to make it back to the Western Conference Final. The team did not have enough though and fell to the Chicago Blackhawks in five games. The Kings were unable to defend their crown. The Hawks would go on to defeat the Boston Bruins in six games and take the 2013 Stanley Cup.
The Kings, never really looked like that perfect team from the 2012 playoffs. They had difficulty winning on the road. Los Angeles wound up with the 1-8 record on the road in the 2013 playoffs after going 11-1 the year before.
The Kings easily returned to the playoffs in 2014. Facing a 3-0 series deficit in the first round against their archrivals the Sharks was unexpected. However, the Kings would come back in dramatic fashion taking the next four games and winning the series.
That group of the Los Angeles Kings believed that one Stanley Cup to establish a legacy and leave their foot in the history books is not enough. After becoming only the fourth team in NHL history to overcome an 0-3 deficit, the Kings won another tough California playoff matchup against the Anaheim Ducks after facing a 3-2 series deficit in the second round. The Kings won another two elimination games and met the Chicago Blackhawks in a Western Final re-match.
Western Conference Final in 2014
The Blackhawks were the reigning Stanley Cup champions. The Kings were coming off two exhausting seven-game series, while the Blackhawks won two six-game series en route to the Western Conference Final.
There was a ton of expectation before Game 1 at United Center in Chicago. However, the Blackhawks won it 3-1 to take the series lead. In Game 2, the Blackhawks seemed to be very close to taking a 2-0 series lead as they led the game 2-0 late in the second period. The Kings scored six unanswered to not only steal one on the road but to also shake the Blackhawks confidence. After that road win for the Kings, they were superior in the two games at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
They took a 3-1 series lead and were just one game away from their third-ever trip to the Stanley Cup Final. In an elimination Game 5, the Blackhawks had a couple of two-goal leads in the first period, but the comeback Kings stormed back to lead the game after two periods. The Hawks would tie it in the third. In double overtime, Michal Handzus scored a game-winner for the Blackhawks.
Before Game 6, the Kings felt it was now or never to close out the series. The Kings had another third-period lead, but it was Patrick Kane who would score the game-winner with 3:45 to go in the game to stun the Staples Center. Game 7 was back on the road in the boisterous United Centre.
Game 7 Versus the Blackhawks
This series was truly a hockey classic with the teams going back and forth. It is a classic matchup that is worth re-watching. In that Game 7 against the Blackhawks, Los Angeles was in a tough spot. After not being able to close out the series twice with third-period leads, the Kings found themselves increasingly frustrated.
In Game 7, Brandon Saad opened the scoring. A few minutes later, an unlucky bounce led to a tap-in goal for Jonathan Toews. It was just over eight minutes into the game and the Hawks led 2-0. However, nothing is impossible for the comeback Kings. After a break late in the first Jeff Carter batted one in out of mid-air, much to the disgust of Johnny Oduya. A few seconds later, Justin Williams beat Corey Crawford on a rebound to tie it up. Only 12 seconds later, Patrick Sharp beat Jonathan Quick with the puck bouncing off the ice and above the reach of Quick to put Chicago back on top.
This was nothing new for the Kings as they had to even it up, again. Tyler Toffoli did so to make it 3-3. On the power-play, the Blackhawks struck again with Sharp scoring his second of the night. With just over seven minutes to go in the game, Marian Gaborik buried a rebound to tie the contest yet again. This series deserved to end in overtime of Game 7. In that overtime, Alec Martinez beat Crawford from a distance as the puck bounced off Nick Leddy. After all the bounces and comebacks, it was all over and the Kings defeated the Blackhawks.
Stanley Cup 2014 Aftermath
The Kings, who were down 3-0 in the first round were playing for the Stanley Cup. Sometimes, it’s much tougher to get a second Cup than to win the first time. This applies to the Kings. After all the hard work and three gruelling Game 7s, the Kings had to face a prepared New York Rangers squad.
After coming back from a 2-0 deficit to win Game 7 of the Western Conference Final, the Kings repeated this scenario two more times. They beat the Rangers in the first two games at Staples Center, with both wins coming in overtime. They would also win Game 3 at Madison Square Garden and took a 3-0 series lead. After losing game 4, the Kings would not be denied at home. For the second time in three seasons, they lifted the Stanley Cup.
Los Angeles Kings Biggest Game Wrap Up
Winning the Stanley Cup in 2012 felt so satisfying and it will always be memorable as the Kings first Cup. However, the Stanley Cup run in 2014 is even more extraordinary and that Game 7 in Chicago was one that Kings fans will never forget.
The Blackhawks would win the cup again in 2015 and could have won three consecutive Stanley Cups if the Kings didn’t beat them that night. It showed the great patience the Kings of that era possessed. That win exhibited the determination of the Los Angeles Kings squad to repeat the 2012 Stanley Cup. It was not enough to win “only” one Cup for that core. The 2012 Stanley Cup run was magnificent, but the 2014 Stanley Cup run was more exciting in many ways.