LOS ANGELES — After two months of playoff domination, spearheaded by sensational goaltending, the Kings completed their improbable Stanley Cup run Monday night in a mere five minutes.
The pivotal moment came at 10:10 of a scoreless first period when the Devils' Steve Bernier smashed Kings defenseman Rob Scuderi into the end boards from behind, bloodying Scuderi's face.
Bernier was ejected with a boarding major, and during the five-minute power play the Kings scored three goals, by Dustin Brown, Jeff Carter and Trevor Lewis.
Los Angeles went on to a 6-1 rout to end its 45-year Stanley Cup quest. Playoff MVP Jonathan Quick made 17 saves and Los Angeles became the first eighth-seeded team to win the league title.
After taking a 3-0 series lead and then losing two potential clinching games last week, the Kings quickly ended the sixth-seeded Devils' attempt at one of the biggest comebacks in final history.
With the early lead, Quick took it from there, finishing a star-making two months by allowing just seven goals in six final games.
"You never know. You get to the dance, you never know what's going to happen," Brown said. "We calmed down after losing two."
Martin Brodeur stopped 19 shots for the Devils, just the third team to force a Game 6 in the final after trailing 3-0. Rookie Adam Henrique ended Quick's shutout bid late in the second period after the Kings had built a 4-0 lead, but Lewis and Matt Greene added late goals for the Kings.
"We never lost our confidence," Quick said. "We had to take it on the chin to keep moving, losing two, and we looked at it as, 'Hey, we still have to win one game to win a championship. And we have two chances.' Finally, we were able to do it at home."
The Kings went 16-4 after barely making the playoffs, eliminating the top three seeds in the Western Conference in overwhelming fashion as they matched the second-fastest run to a title in modern NHL history.
"Every single guy worked so hard for us this season," said defenseman Drew Doughty, who had with six points in the final, including two assists in Monday. "Everyone deserves this. We got used to each other, we developed a chemistry, and we just went sailing from there."
Los Angeles boasted a talented, balanced roster that peaked at the absolute perfect time under midseason coaching hire Darryl Sutter.
Quick set NHL records for save percentage (.946) and goals-against average (1.41) among goalies who played at least 15 postseason games.
Brown had 20 points, tied for the postseason scoring lead with linemate Anze Kopitar. Brown is the second American-born captain to raise the Cup (Dallas' Derian Hatcher did it in 1999).
Brown handed the Cup to Willie Mitchell, the 35-year-old defenseman who had never won the Cup, and he gave it to long-injured and recently returned forward Simon Gagne, the former Lightning player who nearly tripped before raising the Cup for the first time.
"You don't give yourself a lot of room for error, finding yourselves in a pretty deep hole," Devils captain Zach Parise said. "It's hard, but we really felt like could get back in this and force a Game 7. We just came up a bit short, unfortunately."
Despite coming off their first back-to-back losses of the playoffs, the Kings started with impressive energy in Game 6, getting most of the good early scoring chances — and then they got the break they needed when Bernier pushed Scuderi headfirst into the boards behind Quick's net. Scuderi stayed motionless for quite a while, eventually heading to the dressing room after leaving plenty of blood from his lacerated nose.
Bernier, a 27-year-old journeyman and depth forward with two goals in 24 playoff games this season, went to the locker room. The Devils complained Jarret Stoll received no penalty for checking Stephen Gionta into the boards between the benches a moment earlier.
"He turned back," Bernier said of Scuderi. "I feel very bad, but it's a fast game out there, and it ends up being a bad play.
"You certainly don't want to get five minutes for it. I wish I could take that play back. I didn't want to hurt my team. I wanted to help them. This is extremely hard. It's been a long playoff run for us. To finish on that note, it's not fun for sure. But there's nothing I can do now."
The Devils had nine penalties that totaled 47 minutes in Game 6, coming in with an average of 8.7 in the playoffs — the second-fewest in this postseason. Forwards Ryan Carter and David Clarkson had 10-minute misconducts, and defenseman Bryce Salvador served a four-minute high-sticking penalty in the second period.
First Period—1, Los Angeles, Brown 8 (Doughty, Richards), 11:03 (pp). 2, Los Angeles, J.Carter 7 (Brown, Richards), 12:45 (pp). 3, Los Angeles, Lewis 2 (King, Doughty), 15:01 (pp). Penalties—Volchenkov, NJ (hooking), 3:01; S.Bernier, NJ, served by Sykora, major-game misconduct (boarding), 10:10.
Second Period—4, Los Angeles, J.Carter 8 (Brown, Kopitar), 1:30. 5, New Jersey, Henrique 5 (Sykora, Ponikarovsky), 18:45. Penalties—Salvador, NJ, double minor (high-sticking), 6:00; R.Carter, NJ, served by Sykora, minor-misconduct (roughing), 14:23; Clarkson, NJ, misconduct, 18:19; Penner, LA (roughing), 19:43.
Third Period—6, Los Angeles, Lewis 3 (King, Stoll), 16:15 (en). 7, Los Angeles, M.Greene 2, 16:30. Penalties—Sykora, NJ (roughing), 6:55; Brown, LA, served by Williams (tripping, charging), 6:55; Zidlicky, NJ (tripping), 8:06. Shots on Goal—New Jersey 4-6-8—18. Los Angeles 13-8-4—25. Power-play opportunities—New Jersey 0 of 2; Los Angeles 3 of 9. Goalies—New Jersey, Brodeur 14-9-0 (24 shots-19 saves). Los Angeles, Quick 16-4-0 (18-17). A—18,858 (18,118). T—2:27. Referees—Dan O'Rourke, Chris Rooney. Linesmen—Jean Morin, Derek Amell.