Sunday, November 11, 2007

Fantasy On Figueroa: A Night With The Comeback Kings

The Militant's fanaticism for the Dodgers is well-documented, he digs the Lakers of course, and is a loyal fan of the football team of the unspecified local Pac-10 university of which he is an alumnus of. But the Militant also roots for the Kings.

On Friday, an operative sent the Militant a text message saying that he got free tickets to Saturday's Kings game against the Dallas Stars, and the Militant, in search of a post-Dodger season sports high to get into, told the operative he was down. So the Militant carpooled with him and two other operatives to Staples Center, and continuing the "free" theme of the night, scored a curbside parking space and walked two blocks to the downtown arena.

Forgive the Militant, for it has been eight years since his last Kings game - an exhibition game against the Anaheim (Mighty) Ducks of Anaheim during Staples' inaugural season (which he also got free tickets for). The Kings won 1-0 in that one, which was an interesting first hockey experience for the proto-Militant back then, as he was puzzled when everyone started to leave the game after the "Third Quarter."

On Saturday night, the Militant and his operatives sat in the nosebleed seats oriented towards center rink, which wasn't that bad of a view. Still being relatively new to the hockey world, it was a different experience for the baseball-oriented Militant, who recognized the olfactory familiarity of Farmer John hot dogs wafting throughout the venue, yet felt the uniquely unfamiliar sensation of cold air emanating from the rink below. Equally unfamiliar was the hockey vocabulary or penalty boxes and power plays, not to mention players whose names were not "Gretzky" or "Robataille." The sight of the swift, bee-swarm movements of the players and the auditory slapping of sticks and slamming of bodies on plexiglas rounded out the sensory experience.

It also didn't help that for the first two, and much of the third, the Kings were scoreless, trailing the Stars and their seemingly impenetrable goalie, Marty Turco, by four points. The Kings made lame, incompetent shot attempts to the chagrin of the impatient home crowd. The Militant's operative asked him at the end of the 2nd period, "Dude, you wanna leave now?"

But win or lose (or shutout, even) the Militant wanted to stay, just for the experience. Besides, he never leaves a Dodger game early, so why be any different for any other local team?

What happened next was unbelievable.

With 7:14 left in the 3rd period, left wing Dustin Brown scored the Kings' first goal, and the Staples crowd went nuts, with the sound of a loud diesel locomotive horn and snippets of Randy Newman's "I Love L.A.," Zombie Nation's sports anthem "Kernkraft 400" and Gary Glitter's uber-sports anthem, "Rock & Roll, Part 2" heralding the scoring play throughout the arena. The Militant and his operatives jokingly cheered for four more goals to win the game.

Then came the second goal.

And the third.

And the fourth.

And the fifth. All five were scored within a span of five minutes and seven seconds. To say that the Kings were on a roll was the understatement of the night.

The Stars came back to tie the game at five apiece, but the Kings relied on sudden death overtime to settle the score. Then center Anze Kopitar made the winning goal (his second of the game) 2:34 into OT.

The crowd of some 18,000 fans erupted into a deafening roar and didn't want to leave. There was already talk of this being the most amazing Kings comeback victory since 1982's Miracle on Manchester. The Militant dubs this one the "Fantasy On Figueroa," or the Kings' equivalent of the 2006 Dodgers' "9/18" game (aka the back to back to back to back home run victory against the Padres). The streets of Downtown's South Park (and spilling into the Financial District via subway -bound fans) were alive with hollering crowds and cars honking horns, as if the Kings won the Stanley Cup or something. Imagine an already-completed LA Live abuzz with this electricity.

The Militant got to see a great hockey game and an even greater comeback victory, all for the price of free. The Militant will be sure to pay for his ticket for the next game, hopefully someday soon. Go Kings Go!

Highlights of the game right here:

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