The New Jersey Devils gatecrashed the Los Angeles Kings's Stanley Cup party with a Game Four victory on Wednesday, putting celebrations on ice for both the home team and packed crowd in the Staples Center.
The eighth-seeded Kings had been unstoppable in seizing a 3-0 lead in best-of-seven series lead and were fully expected to complete a four-game sweep and lift their first title in the 45-year history of the franchise.
However, the Devils decided they were not finished yet and skated away with a 3-1 victory that sent the teams back to New Jersey for a Game Five on Saturday, leaving the Kings feeling somewhat deflated.
"Everyone was putting the cart before the horse. It's a good lesson for us, and a good lesson for the media and the fans," Los Angeles defenseman Matt Greene told reporters.
"I said that so you (media) can stop asking (about us winning the Stanley Cup). You guys get real excited, which is human nature, but..."
A rampant run through the post-season has added a sense of destiny for a maiden title, with the Kings enjoying a 15-3 record in the playoffs, but the feel good factor disappeared along with an opportunity to lift the Stanley Cup on home ice.
Goaltender Jonathan Quick was as sullen as his team mates after he allowed two goals in the third period, matching the total number he had surrendered during the entire series entering the contest.
"We came in trying to win a game and we didn't do it tonight. We're going to try in the next game," said Quick, who dismissed the idea that the Kings had got caught up hoopla of a likely coronation.
"I've answered this five times. It's in the past at this point. Whether you win or lose you don't have time to get too down or excited."
Despite the somber mood in the locker room, the Kings still have plenty to be optimistic about.
They are an NHL-record 10-0 on the road this post-season and have history on their side as only one team has ever recovered from a 3-0 series deficit to win the Stanley Cup.
(Editing by John O'Brien)