May 24, 2012, 12:41 PM EDT
Give Dustin Penner credit. The guy has a way with words.
Upon arriving at Los Angeles International Airport late Tuesday night, the hero of L.A.’s Game 5 OT victory — sending the Kings to their first Cup finals in 19 years — waxed eloquent about what he saw.
“It was like driving down a hallway lined with human flesh,” he told the L.A. Times. “You couldn’t see anything except people screaming and Kings jerseys. It was a feeling that not anyone will forget ever, I think, on the Kings team.
“It’s one of those things you only get to experience when you make it to the Cup Final.”
Approximately 4,000 Kings fans showed up after midnight to welcome the team home from Phoenix, and Penner was the hero. The Pancake Man was outstanding in the series-clinching game — aside from scoring the winner, he also assisted on Mike Richards‘ 3-2 goal — and now holds the unique distinction of going to the Stanley Cup finals with two different California-based teams.
Penner won a Cup with Anaheim in 2007, but never had a moment quite like Tuesday’s. (He was mired in a miserable slump for most of the Ducks run, scoring just one goal over the final 13 games.)
As such, he was able to put his Game 5 goal in perspective.
“It was a goal,” he said, “I guess to sound really cliche, that was bigger than me.”
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