February 27, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Kings celebrate their 2-1 victory against the Detroit Red Wings at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Kings Now Featuring the Third Period Players

February 27, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Kings center Jeff Carter (77) celebrates with center Mike Richards (10) and defenseman Drew Doughty (8) after scoring a goal against the Detroit Red Wings during the third period at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

During their first three games in February, the Los Angeles Kings really had nothing to brag about. Sandwiched between a less-than-thrilling win against the lowly Blue Jackets in Columbus, the Kings were pounded 7-4 in Anaheim and shut out 3-0 in Nashville. Even the first period of their next game in Detroit was hard to watch. But to the Kings’ credit, they turned things around and started producing when it mattered most.

Despite losing in the final seconds in Detroit back on February 10, the Kings, who looked so disoriented for much of the game, pulled together at the most crucial time of the game and tied it in the final minute of play. It’s disappointing that they couldn’t hold on to earn at least a regulation point but this isn’t about crying over spilled milk. This is about giving the Kings credit where it’s due.

Since that afternoon in Motown, the Kings won seven or their next eight including five straight and a lot of that success is thanks to the team’s clutch play late in games. Even the one game they did lose during their current streak, they went down swinging.

In Chicago on the 17th, the Kings were down 3-0 heading into the third and when a team is down by that much that late in the game against a team who has yet to lose in regulation, you certainly have your work cut out for you and the Los Angeles Kings were no exception. The Kings, to their credit, embraced the opportunity turning a lost cause into an exciting finish as they scored twice in the final frame to pull themselves to within a goal. While they weren’t able to tie, the postgame attitude among fans was pretty positive. They may have come up short but to make things interesting against a team like the Blackhawks in their building especially after having traveled across two time zones in as many days, Los Angeles’ effort was great with all things considered. There was no need to worry, though. To date, that was the last time the Kings lost a game.

Of the 37 goals they scored in February, the Kings scored 14 of those in the third period and of the 19 tallies they registered in their last six contests, 10 of those came in the final frame.  After that afternoon in Chicago, the Kings traveled to Edmonton where they beat the Oilers on two last-minute goals followed by a crucial insurance goal late the next night in Calgary.

During their current five-game winning streak, the Kings were either trailing or tied heading into the third period three times. In fact, the only time during their streak they didn’t score was back on the 23rd against Colorado but in all fairness, Los Angeles already had a 4-1 lead – and for what it’s worth, the Avs didn’t score in the final frame either.

Of course, with all that said, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Los Angeles’ two most recent wins, avenging two early-month losses, first scoring three times in the third to beat Anaheim 5-2 and scoring two late goals last game to upend Detroit by a score of 2-1.

Speaking of goals against, since their heartbreaker in Detroit, the Kings have allowed a grand total of one third period goal since and none in their last six outings. If only the NHL shaved off five seconds to their periods and those numbers would be even more impressive – but I digress.

On both sides of the puck, the Los Angeles Kings are proving that their playoff run last spring wasn’t simply a case of good luck. Instead, it was proof that they deserved to win the Stanley Cup and have every intention of repeating this year.

There may still be a lot of hockey left to be played but the Kings are living up to their label as reigning champions because for anyone who follows sports whether it’d be religiously or casually knows that the making of a true champion is proven not how they perform in the beginning or the middle but like any good story, how everything falls in place in the end and for the Los Angeles Kings, they transformed from Danielle Steele into Leo Tolstoy before all the tiresome skeptics knew what hit them.

Tags: Clutch Five-game Winning Streak Los Angeles Kings Stanley Cup Champions Third Period

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