Kings shoot for 3-0 lead as Cup Finals shift to New York
(SportsNetwork.com) - The New York Rangers have found out the hard way why the Los Angeles Kings are so tough to beat.
After watching the Kings mount comebacks to pick up overtime wins in Games 1 and 2 in Los Angeles, the Rangers hope to avoid falling behind 3-0 in the Stanley Cup Finals when they host Monday's Game 3 at Madison Square Garden.
The Kings rallied from 2-0 down to claim a 3-2 overtime victory in Wednesday's opener and the club's Game 2 comeback was even more impressive. New York held leads of 2-0, 3-1 and 4-2 on Saturday, but Los Angeles eventually won the contest 5-4 in double overtime thanks to a deflection goal from captain Dustin Brown.
"Both games we had opportunities. We didn't get it done," said Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault. "We're going home in front of our great fans. We're going to be ready for the next game."
It was the fourth multi-goal comeback win of the 2014 playoffs for Los Angeles, and its third in a row dating back to a 5-4 OT win over the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 7 of the Western Conference finals. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the last time any team posted as many multi-goal comeback wins in one playoff year was in 1987, when the Philadelphia Flyers earned five such victories.
The Kings also fell behind 2-0 for the fifth time in their past nine games. They improved to 4-1 in those contests.
L.A. will take the comeback victories, of course, but the club would like to get off to a better start in tonight's Game 3.
"We haven't executed well in the first half of games," said L.A. defenseman Willie Mitchell. "It baffles everyone in here. It's not a place we want to be in to have to climb out of all the time."
Slow starts or not, L.A. now has a chance to take a commanding 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven series on Monday. A Kings' win tonight also would give Darryl Sutter's club an opportunity to complete a sweep of the Rangers when the teams meet again at MSG on Wednesday. L.A. is aiming for its second Cup crown in three seasons after claiming the franchise's first title in 2012.
The Rangers, meanwhile, hope to use Games 3 and 4 on home ice to make this a series. New York is 6-4 as the home team in the 2014 playoffs and has won three of its last four at the Garden. The Blueshirts are in the Cup Finals for the first time since 1994, when they beat Vancouver in seven games to win their fourth championship and first since 1940. Monday's contest marks the first Cup Finals game at MSG since June 14, 1994, when New York beat the Canucks, 3-2, to win its last title.
The Kings are 7-5 as the guest this postseason and have won seven of 10 on the road since dropping the first two games of the first round in San Jose. L.A. fell behind 3-0 against the Sharks in the Western Conference quarterfinals only to become the fourth team in NHL history to win a series after losing the first three contests.
Brown's deflection goal hit the back of the net with 9:34 remaining in the second overtime on Saturday. He was initially stationed near the top of the crease, but, while wrestling with defenseman Ryan McDonagh, was pushed into the high slot. Nonetheless, Brown was able to bat a Mitchell point drive out of the air and past Henrik Lundqvist for the winner.
"We've been down in these playoffs a lot, so we're not focused on winning or losing, we're focused on the next shift," Brown admitted. "When we do that, we find ways to score big goals, and big saves allow us to stay in it."
Mitchell and Dwight King recorded a goal and assist each while Jarret Stoll and Marian Gaborik also tallied for the Kings. Justin Williams contributed three assists to back a 34-save effort by Jonathan Quick.
"I'm a little bit drained, but you know if that's what it takes to win a game, I think every single guy in here is prepared to drain himself pretty good," said Kings forward Anze Kopitar. "It doesn't matter what period you're playing in really. You're just trying to move your feet as good as you can, support the play, make the plays that are there and just be focused really. It doesn't really matter that it's double overtime."
McDonagh, Mats Zuccarello, Martin St. Louis and Derick Brassard lit the lamp for the Rangers.
Lundqvist once again played well, but suffered the loss despite 39 saves. The Rangers star netminder stopped 40-of-43 shots in the Game 1 setback.
New York carried a 4-2 lead into the final 20 minutes of regulation, but it took less than two minutes of the third period for L.A. to reduce its deficit with a controversial goal. King was credited with the tally after Matt Greene sent a blast on net from the right point, but immediately after the goal Lundqvist was noticeably upset that there was no call for goaltender interference.
King and Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh were jostling for position at the front of the crease when the L.A. forward fell into Lundqvist and prevented him from making a play on the puck.
"I'm extremely disappointed on that call -- or non-call. They have to be consistent on that," Lundqvist said. "They scored a goal, and I can't even move. It's extremely frustrating for them to get life like that."
Gaborik's second-chance rebound try at the right post tied the game 4-4 at 7:36. The score stayed that way until Brown's deflection tally in the second OT.
Los Angeles also won the first two games of the 2012 Stanley Cup Finals in overtime, but on the road at New Jersey, and went on to win the series in six games.
New York has scored first in 15 of its 22 postseason contests, but fell to 10-5 in those games. The Rangers also suffered their first defeat this postseason when leading after two periods (10-1).
Rangers defenseman John Moore returned in Game 2 after completing his two-game suspension for a hit to the head of Montreal's Dale Weise in the Eastern Conference finals.
Kings defenseman Robyn Regehr missed his 15th straight game Saturday with a knee injury despite the fact Sutter said the veteran blueliner would "probably play" in Game 2. Regehr has been sidelined with an injury suffered in Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals against Anaheim and has two assists in eight playoff games this spring. He could replace Greene in the lineup if he's ready to go for Game 3.
06/09 10:34:11 ET