Originally posted on Fox Sports West  |  Last updated 5/23/12
After a 19-year wait, the Kings have returned to a land last traversed by Wayne Gretzky, Luc Robitaille, Kelly Hrudey and pals: the Stanley Cup Finals. The Kings didn't make it easy on themselves. After winning the first three games of the Western Conference Finals against Phoenix, the Kings lost Game 4 at home before they won 4-3 in overtime on Tuesday night in Glendale, Ariz. Now, the Kings have completed one of the oddest, most circular journeys in recent memory. Considered Stanley Cup contenders in October, they slumped throughout November and December and had to fight at the end of the season merely to reach the playoffs as the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference. Going forward, the Kings will rely on the veterans who have carried them this far, plus a mixture of young players who had never been beyond the first round of the NHL playoffs before last month. Rob Scuderi will be going to his third Stanley Cup Finals in five years, and has one title with Pittsburgh. Colin Fraser, Dustin Penner and Justin Williams have also been champions. Players such as Jarret Stoll, Matt Greene, Mike Richards and Jeff Carter have also made one previous trip to the Finals, and now will get a second chance to win, as the Kings will face either the New York Rangers or the New Jersey Devils starting a week from Wednesday. "Obviously you want to win," Stoll said. "You want to get there and you want to win. You don't want to lose. It's been a long journey, and hopefully we can play well and have a good time." NOTES, QUOTES Kings cruised to Finals like few others --The Kings have a 12-2 record this postseason, which has made them the seventh team to reach the Stanley Cup Finals having played only 14 games since 1987, when the league went to a four-round, best-of-seven postseason setup. No team has reached the Finals while playing fewer than 14 games. The Kings are also 8-0 on the road in these playoffs, making them the first team to win eight consecutive road games in a single playoff year. --Once again, the Kings got it done with a shorthanded goal Tuesday, as Anze Kopitar's first-period deflection of Drew Doughty's shot tied the game 1-1. The Kings have scored five shorthanded goals this postseason, the most since the Detroit Red Wings scored six in the 2008 playoffs. QUOTE TO NOTE: "Just a big relief. It was just a big relief. They worked really hard. You've got to tip your cap to them. They worked really hard and made us earn it." -- Kings goalie Jonathan Quick, on his first thought after Dustin Penner's overtime goal. ROSTER REPORT PLAYER NOTES: --LW Dustin Penner continued his remarkable redemptive playoff run, scoring the overtime goal 17:42 into the first session to send the Kings to the Stanley Cup Finals. Expected to be a major contributor when the Kings acquired him from Edmonton last season, Penner failed to produce and occasionally was made a healthy scratch by coach Darryl Sutter and his predecessor, Terry Murray. Penner has surged this postseason, though, with three goals, including his first career playoff overtime goal. --C Jarret Stoll and D Matt Greene made NHL history when the Kings beat the Coyotes. Only two teams -- this year's Kings and the 2006 Edmonton Oilers -- have reached the Stanley Cup Finals as the No. 8 seed in either division, and Stoll and Greene were also a part of that Oilers team, which lost to Carolina in the Finals. Incidentally, current teammate RW Justin Williams was a member of that Carolina team. Greene (four hits) and Stoll (three hits) were both physical factors in Game 5. --LW Dustin Brown recorded an assist on the shorthanded first-period goal by C Anze Kopitar. In this postseason, Brown has two shorthanded goals and three shorthanded assists. That's the most shorthanded points for a player in a postseason since Detroit's Henrik Zetterberg had five in 2008.
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