Throughout July, LAKI has reviewed the top 10 moments of the Los Angeles Kings season as a recurring feature entitled “I Was There.”
KingsCast recently finished a similar endeavor, complete with screen grabs, video highlights and commentary. Alex Kinkopf’s #TopTen list is recommended as a great account of the 2012-13 season.
And, finally, after a slight delay, we’ve reached the pinnacle moment of the lockout-delayed 2012-13 NHL season. It was a moment that produced a decibel level inside Staples Center that I can only really compare to three other peak moments of jubilation: Adam Deadmarsh’s overtime goal to knock the Red Wings out of the playoffs in 2001, and the Dustin Brown and Jeff Carter power play goals scored in the clinching Stanley Cup Final game against New Jersey on June 11, 2012. I didn’t attend the Frenzy on Figueroa, but would imagine that Bryan Smolinski’s game-tying goal late in the third period also produced about as powerful of a roar.
Has Staples Center ever been as loud as it was when Trevor Lewis scored the game-winning goal against San Jose on May 16, 2013?
I Was There #1: Jumping the Sharks
Game 2 of Los Angeles’ second round series against San Jose had already produced significant drama by the time the Kings were in position to mount a late comeback. After early first period pressure on Jonathan Quick, Jeff Carter ripped off a wristshot mid-stride while at full speed that beat Antti Niemi from the right wing to open the scoring. When Brad Richardson offered Drew Doughty a beautiful backhanded saucer pass that the Los Angeles defenseman wired into the top corner, stick side past Niemi four minutes into the second period, the Kings appeared in a groove – if not particularly comfortable – almost midway through the game against an evenly matched opponent.
Patrick Marleau scored midway on a redirection five and a half minutes after Doughty’s goal, and then Brad Stuart evened the game at two with 5:39 to play in the second period; considering San Jose had outshot Los Angeles 24-13 through two and had been finding success in the game in activating its defensemen, Marc-Edouard Vlasic’s goal that gave San Jose a 3-2 lead nine minutes into the third period was not a completely arbitrary occurrence.
The Kings, though, outshot the Sharks 18-7 in the final period – a tally that did not include Dustin Brown’s attempted shot that struck Anze Kopitar squarely in the left side of his jaw. Bloodied and bruised but not beaten, Kopitar temporarily left the game as the Kings searched for the equalizer.
Tyler Toffoli registered five shots on goal in the game and may have played his finest 20 minutes as a King in the final period. Moving his feet, he drew a whistle on Stuart with 2:41 remaining, a tripping penalty that was followed by a Vlasic puck-over-the-glass delay of game call 22 seconds later that rose the level of anticipation that something interesting and unique could be developing.
Logan Couture had a chance to clear the puck from his own zone during the ensuing five-on-three, but Doughty got in front of the attempt and calmly maintained the pressure in the offensive zone during the two-man advantage. Showing patience and restraint, he lifted his stick on a backswing as though he was about to fire off a shot, but instead dished the puck to Richards at the left circle. Richards snapped a low shot on net, and generated a rebound that fell loose in front of the crease. Brown pounced on the puck during a scramble to tie the game at three.
One minute and 24 seconds remained on the power play.
Aesthetic beauty: Extremely high. This was more than just a bang-bang rebound goal – this was excellent possession hockey. After receiving a pass from Slava Voynov, Jake Muzzin issued a precise cross-ice pass to the right wing to Toffoli, whose momentum allowed him to beat Stuart to the outside. Toffoli then snapped a playable low shot to Niemi’s far pad as Lewis used leverage to drive past Dan Boyle and converge on the same spot on the ice as the rebound. This followed Brown’s equalizer by 22 seconds with an already fervent Staples Center on its feet.
Lasting impact: Nearly legendary, as far as Kings history is concerned. It is not on the same plane as the Miracle on Manchester or June 11, 2012, obviously, but it certainly should be afforded roughly the same level of reverence as the Frenzy on Figueroa – even if it is difficult to compare two completely different teams and sets of circumstances. It was a frenetic finish in which the team was losing and then winning without allowing fans the chance to sit down and collect their bearings. Like Landon Donovan’s goal against Algeria (which was actually kind of the soccer equivalent of this play, in some aspects), for many it was the encapsulation of pure, unadulterated joy.
Previously on “I Was There”
#10: Toffoli’s first goal
#9: Quick passes Hrudey
#8: Kopitar’s goal versus Detroit
#7: Game 4 comeback over St. Louis
#6: Slava’s overtime game-winner
#5: Banner raising ceremony
#4: Williams in seven
#3: The White House visit
#2: The McFlurry Miracle
KingsCast #1: Pandemonium-22