Skating between the circles, Dustin Penner saw the puck bouncing his way. A scrum of players thrashing in front of him, he fired a shot through the crowd and between Phoenix goalie Mike Smith’s pads.
Fortunate? Maybe a little, but it was all the Los Angeles Kings needed to get where they haven’t been since Wayne Gretzky glided across the ice in Southern California.
Penner scored 17:42 into overtime and the Kings are headed to the Stanley Cup finals for the second time as a franchise after beating the Phoenix Coyotes 4-3 in Game 5 of the Western Conference finals Tuesday night.
“I got a lucky bounce,” Penner said. “I just waited for it to settle down, and I got a chance to get it in the net.”
The kings of the road, Los Angeles will play for hockey’s ultimate prize for the first time since 1993 after taking down the Western Conference’s top three seeds.
The Kings knocked off No. 1 Vancouver, the Presidents’ Trophy winner, No. 2 St. Louis and rounded it out with a five-game win over the No. 3 Coyotes in the conference finals to become the second No. 8 seed — along with Edmonton in 2006 — to reach the Stanley Cup finals.
They played hard, utilized their skill and size and won away from home like no other team in NHL history.
“There hasn’t been much success as an organization, but we’ve got an opportunity to play for the Cup,” said Kings captain Dustin Brown, who angered the Coyotes with a hit that knocked defenseman Michal Rozsival from the game just before Penner’s goal. “But there’s still a lot of work to be done.”
After losing Game 4 at home, Los Angeles closed out Phoenix in the desert for its NHL-record eighth straight road victory of the playoffs. The Kings became the first team to go undefeated on the road en route to the Stanley Cup finals and have won 10 straight road playoff games over two seasons, another record.
Video: Jonathan Quick makes an amazing rolling save with the left pad on Radim Vrbata.
Video: Drew Doughty’s point shot is redirected by Anze Kopitar as LA gets the shorthanded equalizer.
Video: Marc-Antoine Pouliot gets his first goal as a Coyote, giving Phoenix a 2-1 lead in Game 5.
Video: Mike Richards gives the Kings a 3-2 lead, and puts the puck in again for safe measure.
Video: Dustin Penner scores on the rebound to send the LA Kings to the Stanley Cup Final.