It is June 11, 2022, which means it was exactly 10 years ago when the LA Kings won their first-ever Stanley Cup in franchise history.
June 11, 2012, will be etched in the memory of every LA Kings fan forever.
That night, the Kings finished off one of if not the best Stanley Cup run in NHL history. The Kings became the first-ever 8th seed to win a Stanley Cup, the first 8th seed to knock off the top three seeds in their conference, the first team ever to win ten straight road games in the playoffs, and the first team to lead all four of their playoff series 3-0, and their record of 16-4 tied for the second-best by a championship team. Just absolute dominance.
Today we will go back down memory lane and look back at the top-10 moments during that cup run.
10. Jeff Carter’s Game 2 hat trick against the Coyotes (5/15/12):
With a desperate need for scoring, the LA Kings went out and acquired Jeff Carter from the Columbus Blue Jackets several days before the trade deadline.
During the playoffs, he was paired on the second line with his long-time friend from the Philadelphia Flyers, Mike Richards. Through the first ten playoff games, Carter only registered one goal. That all changed when Carter found his scoring touch in Game 2.
Carter found the back of the net three times (two on the power-play) in a Kings 4-0 Game 2 victory. It was the first hat trick in LA Kings’ playoffs history since Wayne Gretzky’s Game 7 hat trick against the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1993. That was the Jeff Carter the Kings were looking for when they acquired him.
9. Jonathan Quick wins the Conn Smythe (6/11/12):
This moment captures a sensational playoff run for Jonathan Quick. After their Game 6 victory over the New Jersey Devils, Jonathan Quick was awarded the Conn Smythe trophy for the most valuable player in the playoffs.
During the 2012 playoffs, Quick posted a 16-4 record, 1.41 GAA, .946 save percentage, and three shutouts. It was a no-doubter who the Conn Smythe trophy winner would be.
However, the Kings probably don’t go on this historical run if it weren’t for Jonathan Quick. While the Kings had trouble scoring goals throughout the regular season, Jonathan Quick was able to steal games and keep the Kings in the playoff hunt. You can make the case that without him, the Kings may not make the playoffs in 2012.
Whenever the Kings needed a big save from Quick, he answered. His regular-season performance carried over into the playoffs and earned him the Conn Smythe trophy. Excellent choice by the voters.
8. Sweeping the Blues (5/6/12):
Game 4 against the St. Louis Blues marked an opportunity for the LA Kings to achieve their first sweep in franchise history. Jordan Nolan got the Kings on the board within the first five minutes of the first period, but Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk answered back just under seven minutes later. Then, right before the period expired, Dustin Brown wired a shot by the glove of Blues goalie Brian Elliott to give the Kings a 2-1 lead.
The score remained the same after two periods and the majority of the third period as well. With under two minutes left and the Kings protecting a 2-1 lead, they didn’t get the Blues any chances. Finally, with 45 seconds left in the game, the Blues gained entry into the Kings zone and pulled goalie Brian Elliott for the extra skater.
The Blues got only one shot attempt, and it was a weak one that was blocked by Matt Greene. When Greene cleared the puck to center ice, Anze Kopitar got to it first and fed Dustin Brown, who put the puck into the empty net for a 3-1 Kings lead. Kopitar leaped into the arms of Brown, and the Staples Center crowd went crazy. When the buzzer sounded, the Kings completed their first-ever sweep in franchise history.
7. Anze Kopitar’s overtime winner against the Devils (5/30/12):
Game 1 marked the first time the Kings played in a Stanley Cup Final game since 1993. However, it started as a stalemate as both teams didn’t get many chances. The Kings led 1-0 after one period off a goal by Colin Fraser. The Devils answered back late in the second period as New Jersey defenseman Anton Volchenkov’s shot got stopped by Quick but bounced off Slava Voynov and into the net to tie it at one.
Both teams got their chances in the third period, but the goalies from each side turned them away. With the score tied at one after 60 minutes of play, Game 1 would require overtime.
With the Devils attempting to keep the Kings hemmed in their zone, Drew Doughty was able to backhand the puck out to center ice to Justin Williams. With a no-look backhand pass, Williams fed Kopitar, who was in on a breakaway. Kopitar was able to get Devils’ goalie Martin Brodeur to bite on his stick handle and slide it under his right leg for the game-winner.
Kopitar’s game-winner in overtime gave the Kings a 1-0 series lead and their 9th straight win on the road in the playoffs.
6. Jeff Carter’s overtime winner against the Devils (6/2/12):
Game 2 against the Devils was almost identical to Game 1. The Kings jumped out to an early 1-0 lead, with the Devils tying it later on in the game. Just like in Game 1, overtime was required to determine a winner for Game 2.
The Devils outshot the Kings 30-21 in regulation, but it was the Kings who would dominate the overtime period. Drew Doughty and Mike Richards had great chances early on to end it but were both stopped by Martin Brodeur.
But, it was Jeff Carter who would ultimately end the game in overtime as he got the puck behind the net, cut to the middle of the ice, and beat a screened Martin Brodeur blocker side. The goal by Carter was his 5th of the playoffs and sent the Kings back home with a 2-0 series lead. It was also the Kings’ 10th straight road win in the playoffs.
5. Jarret Stoll sends the Kings to the second round (4/22/12):
The Kings had an opportunity to eliminate the President’s trophy winner Vancouver Canucks in Game 4, but Vancouver staved off elimination. Game 5 marked another opportunity. Henrik Sedin got a power-play goal late in the first for Vancouver, while Brad Richardson scored early in the third period for the Kings.
Game 5 would need overtime to decide a winner. Canucks defenseman Dan Hamhuis got the puck behind his net and was hounded by Trevor Lewis as he carried the puck out of the zone. The pressure from Lewis caused a turnover in the neutral zone where Jarret Stoll picked up the puck. With a 2-on-1 in the Canucks’ zone, Stoll opted to shoot the puck. With a great snapshot, Stoll was able to beat goalie Cory Schneider up high blocker side to win the series for the Kings.
The overtime goal by Stoll gave the Kings their first series win since 2001 and set up a date with the St. Louis Blues for round two.
4. Dustin Penner sends the Kings to the Stanley Cup Final (5/22/12):
Do you remember Dustin Penner for his heroics in Game 5 against the Coyotes or for the pancake jokes?
That question pretty much sums up Penner’s tenure as an LA King.
Penner was acquired by the Kings from the Oilers on the day of the 2011 trade deadline. His tenure with the Kings was far from good. Penner’s inconsistent play led to him being a healthy scratch early on in the season and frustration from the fans. Things got worse when he injured his back while eating pancakes before an afternoon game against Columbus.
However, his heroics in Game 5 against the Phoenix Coyotes put all that frustration aside for the night. As the overtime session was winding down, Penner found himself in the right place at the right time. After Jeff Carter’s shot was stopped by Phoenix goaltender Mike Smith, the rebound found itself on the stick of Penner. Without hesitation, Penner fired the puck by the left shoulder of Smith to win the game and the series for LA. The goal by Penner sent the Kings to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 1993.
“It’s the biggest goal of my career so far. Hopefully, there is a couple of more waiting in the finals”, Penner said to reporters after the game.
Although his tenure with the Kings was far from good, Penner did have a few big moments as a King.
3. Dustin Brown levels Henrik Sedin (4/15/12):
This play has to be the biggest moment that wasn’t a goal-scoring moment during the 2012 run. The first two games in the Kings’ matchup against the Canucks in round one were very physical. As the series shifted to LA, so did the hitting. While there were several big hits in Game 3, the biggest one came early in the second period.
With both teams skating 4-on-4, the captains just happened to be on the ice at the same time. With the puck along the boards and in front of his bench, Canucks captain Henrik Sedin backhanded the puck across the middle of the ice in the neutral zone. What he didn’t know was that Dustin Brown was right behind him.
After Sedin made the pass and turned around in a split second…BOOM! He caught a clean shoulder hit from Dustin Brown. The hit was so powerful that not only did Sedin fall hard on the ice, but he was slow to get up and was seen scratching the door at the Canucks bench. Sedin had to go to the locker room but was able to come back and finish the game. Watching the hit from home, I felt the pain through the TV.
Brown’s night was not done as he scored the only goal of the game in the third period to lead the Kings to a 1-0 win. The captain did it all that night and possibly, what many fans say, jump-started the Kings’ championship run.
2. The five-minute major power-play (6/11/12):
After going up 3-0 in the series, the Devils won Games 4 and 5 to force a Game 6. For the first time in the playoffs, the Kings lost two games in a row, and momentum slowly started shifting to the Devils’ side. Game 6 would be the last home game for the Kings either way. Once Game 6 ended, the Kings would either be celebrating a Stanley Cup championship or head on a plane to New Jersey for Game 7.
When the puck dropped for Game 6, the Kings came out buzzing but couldn’t get one past Martin Brodeur. At 10:10 of the first period, Devils forward Steve Bernier hit Kings defenseman Rob Scuderi from behind and was given a penalty for boarding. Scuderi was bleeding, missed the rest of the first period, and required stitches. Bernier’s night was done, and he was given a five-minute major penalty.
The Kings’ power-play, which struggled all season long, had a perfect opportunity to give them the lead. And they did just that as Dustin Brown tipped in a Drew Doughty shot from the left circle that went through the legs of Martin Brodeur just 53 seconds into the power-play. The Kings weren’t done yet as Brown’s shot in the slot was deflected by Jeff Carter by Brodeur’s glove for a 2-0 Kings lead. Two goals in a span of 1:42.
The Kings wouldn’t get another goal until the final seconds of the power-play when Trevor Lewis tapped in Dwight King’s pass through the crease to give the Kings a 3-0 lead. The Kings got three power-play goals when they needed them the most. Not bad for a power-play that struggled all season long.
1. Lifting the Stanley Cup (6/11/12):
Kings fans waited a long time for someone to lift the Stanley Cup, especially those who had been loyal to the team since they entered the league as an expansion team in 1967. On June 11, 2012, the long 45-year wait came to an end in front of a sold-out crowd at Staples Center.
Trevor Lewis and Matt Greene scored 15 seconds apart to give the Kings a 6-1 lead with 3:30 left in the game. The six goals were the most the Kings scored in a game all season. More importantly, reality started to set in. Both the fans and players started celebrating as they anxiously watched the time tick off the clock.
With ten seconds left, the countdown was on, and when the final buzzer sounded, the Kings were Stanley Cup champions. The crowd let out a big cheer, confetti fell from the rafters, and the players jumped off the bench to celebrate on the ice.
When Commissioner Gary Bettman presented Dustin Brown with the Stanley Cup, Brown couldn’t wait to grab it from Bettman’s hands and lift the Stanley Cup before posing for a picture with Bettman and the trophy. Once the picture was taken, Brown became the first LA Kings player ever to raise the Stanley Cup. After each player got to raise the cup, the party was on.
The 2012 LA Kings will always hold a special place in Kings fans’ hearts.
Now I ask you, what are your top ten moments from the Kings’ 2012 Stanley Cup championship run?