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The Hockey Gods ruined the Los Angeles Kings' Stanley Cup party plans

The Kings had their family in town and the champagne waiting, but the Hockey Gods were not ready for the 2014 Stanley Cup Final to end.

Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports

SB Nation 2014 NHL Playoff Bracket

NEW YORK -- The Los Angeles Kings were ready for a party.

Jeff Carter had his girlfriend and all of her identical-looking blonde friends in town. Justin Williams had his wife, Kelly, and young son, Jaxon, in from L.A. to watch the game. Luc Robitaille had his whole crew with him, rolling at least five or six deep.

The entire Kings contingent lined a 5th floor hallway at Madison Square Garden after Game 4 on Wednesday, bejeweled in purple vintage Rogie Vachon sweaters, silver vintage Rob Blake shirts, and current whoever-they-were-there-to-support apparel. The Möet & Chandon was delivered and sitting on ice, waiting to be poured into and consumed out of the Stanley Cup. At least until whenever the guys got sick of the fancy stuff and eventually switched to Bud.

On the ice, the Kings played like they were ready to party, too. They gave up two goals to the Rangers -- one to Benoit Pouliot at the 7:25 mark of the first and one to Martin St. Louis at the 6:27 mark of the second -- to fall behind 2-0, but that had happened twice already in the series. Both games ended in LA wins. Yes, they had a rejuvenated and really-good-in-elimination-games Henrik Lundqvist to try and beat, but it seemed more than possible despite how good the goaltender was playing.

When Dan Girardi, New York's Next Top Scapegoat, broke the knob of his stick at the blue line feeding Dustin Brown on a breakaway that ended in a gorgeous goal, it felt like the Kings would yet again erase a 2-0 hole. It was only a matter of time.

"I think everybody was just shaking their head at that one where the knob broke out of my stick," Girardi said after the game. The wood part broke right where my stick starts. All I could do is shake my head and laugh when I got to the bench because there's absolutely nothing you can do. It wasn't like a got a slash on my shaft and it broke. Just the wood breaks. I'm kind of getting sick of what's happening right now. It's kind of getting to be a bit of a joke all the stuff that's happening, but guys knew it was just a fluke thing and we were not bothered by it at all. We knew we just had to keep that second one out of the net."

It really should have been just a matter of time. From the Brown goal until the end of regulation, the Kings outshot the Rangers 27-2. Shots in the third period were 15-1. The even strength shot attempt chart from Extra Skater illustrates just how insane it was:


Play this game 10 times and you'll likely get a Kings win eight or nine of those times. But Henrik Lundqvist stood strong in goal, and got a ton of help from .... well, it had to be the Hockey Gods. That's really the only way to describe it.



Those are two different occasions, for the record. The historically awful ice at Madison Square Garden just saved the Rangers' chance to win the Stanley Cup.

"I've been in the game a long time to know that sometimes the Hockey Gods are there," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said." They were there tonight. Thank God for soft ice."

Mats Zuccarello didn't sugarcoat it.

"We probably played our worst game of the series, and we won."

Hockey is a bizarre game that way, sometimes. On the flip side, the Kings were the team that got outplayed in Game 3, and yet they had a goalie who stood on his head -- and a ton of bounces that went their way -- to win the game. Now we'll see which way the puck bounces in Game 5, fully aware that it could decide whether we see the Stanley Cup or a Game 6 on Monday back at MSG.

The Kings' family members weren't depressed after the loss. They got a free trip to New York out of it, and lots of free NHL catering (booze included, naturally). Everybody was actually all smiles, except for little Jaxon Williams, who had to be consoled by his father. He's not really used to his dad losing games after all.

They'll all be there again for Game 5 in Los Angeles, hoping for that same party. We assume those cases of champagne are coming too, tucked away somewhere on the Kings' charter cross-country flight, side-by-side with the equipment bags and sticks and armor the players will take on the ice with them Friday night at Staples Center.

Will they get to pop 'em open? That might just depend on the mood of the Hockey Gods.