Kings players celebrate after winning Game 2 in overtime. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles…)
NEWARK, N.J. –- The Kings and the Stanley Cup winged their way east Thursday, taking separate flights.
The Kings hope to take the bauble back as carry-on luggage Sunday. All that stands in their way are the New Jersey Devils in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final this evening at the Prudential Center.
While the Kings missed their chance to celebrate on home ice, the moment will be no less sweet if they wrap things up near the swamps of Jersey.
It would be the Kings' first title since they entered the NHL as an expansion team before the 1967-68 season. They were close once, in 1993, but why delve into the sad, and almost-comical, Marty McSorley affair?
So a 3-1 series lead has the Kings "sitting pretty good right now," forward Anze Kopitar said.
But, he added, "We know what the expectations are."
The Kings have not lost on the road during the playoffs, winning an NHL-record 10 consecutive games. That included a pair of 2-1 overtime victories against the Devils in New Jersey to open the series.
The series lead was pushed to 3-0 Monday and Los Angeles prepared to the close things out Wednesday at Staples Center.
The Cup was brought to the arena, while police erected barricades outside the building. Like Lakers owner Jack Kent Cooke’s celebratory balloons at the Forum during the 1968 NBA Finals, the preparations proved to be unnecessary.
The Devils scored three third-period goals for a 3-1 victory that sent the series back to New Jersey.
"We wanted to nail it two days ago; nothing has changed," Kopitar said. "The focus and the concentration is still there. Obviously you want to finish it off as quickly as you can. Sometimes it doesn't go according to plan."
The Devils’ plan is to become only the second team to rally from a 3-0 deficit in the Stanley Cup Final. Toronto accomplished it in 1942.
"You know it's going to happen again, so why not us?" New Jersey Coach Peter DeBoer said. "I think that’s the approach. You're not going to go 200 years without someone else doing it. So it's been long enough, it might as well be us."
A Devils victory sends the series back to Los Angeles for a Game 6 at Staples Center on Monday. That would leave the Kings needing to win or face a winner-take-all game back in Newark.
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