Los Angeles Kings: New York Rangers

Rapid Reaction: Kings 3, Rangers 0

June, 9, 2014
Jun 9
NEW YORK -- Three games into the 2014 Stanley Cup final and the New York Rangers are on the brink of elimination following the club’s devastating 3-0 loss to the Los Angeles Kings Monday night at Madison Square Garden.

They are in serious danger of being the first team swept in the final since 1998.

The Kings are just 60 minutes from their second championship in the past three years and Lord Stanley’s Cup will be in the building Wednesday for the taking, unless the Rangers can muster one last stand at MSG.

This time, Los Angeles didn’t even need to summon a furious comeback effort, as they built a 3-0 lead and never looked back against the Blueshirts, whose coach Alain Vigneault dubbed the game “must win” prior to Monday’s action.

The Rangers have battled adversity throughout this postseason to make this surprising run to the finals, but they appear to have finally met their match in a big, heavy, structured Kings squad.

Kings netminder Jonathan Quick was on point Monday night, making a number of stunning saves to hold the Rangers scoreless, recording his second shutout of the 2014 playoffs.

Can’t catch a break: After bemoaning their puck luck in the first two games, the Rangers have to be downright flummoxed by their inability to get a fortuitous bounce after Game 3.

Let’s have a look at the first three Kings goals: Jeff Carter's shot glanced off the heel of Game 1 scapegoat Dan Girardi's skate blade. Jake Muzzin's shot deflected off Martin St. Louis. Mike Richards attempted to dish on a two-on-one rush, only to have the puck hit Ryan McDonagh and kick right to his third goal of the postseason.

Not much you can do on any of those if you’re Henrik Lundqvist.

Long overdue: Rangers winger Rick Nash has been held off the scoresheet in four straight games, though he has delivered some of his most physical, energetic hockey during that span.

The marquee winger was engaged again Monday night, driving the net with purpose, though he didn’t make a power-play appearance since the team’s fourth power play of the game.

Nash has been barely used on the man-advantage during the series, a puzzling decision by Vigneault.

Buzzer-beater: The MSG crowd was stunned into silence as the two clubs skated off the ice after the first period, still processing the back-breaker of a goal from Jeff Carter scored with less than one second on the clock in the opening frame.

Carter ripped a shot that deflected off Girardi and past Lundqvist with just 0.7 ticks left on the clock to end a period that had plenty of action and very few stoppages. Naturally it was Justin Williams, who has had a stunning postseason, that dished to Carter for the timely goal to pick up his 16th assist of the postseason. Prior to Carter’s 10th goal of the season, the Rangers had one particularly terrific scoring chance when Mats Zuccarello had the puck on his stick at the left post, staring at an open net. Quick made a sensational stick save, though, and the Rangers headed off to the intermission trailing in a game for the first time this entire series.

Conn Smythe candidate: With William’s dominant, plucky play this spring, his name must now enter the the Conn Smythe conversation, awarded to the playoff MVP. With his assist on Carter’s first-period marker, Williams extended his point streak to five games (two goals, seven assists). Not to mention he has lived up to his nickname as “Mr. Game 7” with his consistently clutch production. The 32-year-old Cobourg, Ontario, native also has two goals in Game 7's this postseason and two game-winning goals, including in Game 1 of this series.

Rapid Reaction: Kings 5, Rangers 4 (2OT)

June, 7, 2014
Jun 7
LOS ANGELES -- Just call them the Comeback Kings.

For the second straight game, the Los Angeles Kings stunned the New York Rangers with a manic and frenzied come-from-behind victory, knocking off the Blueshirts with a 5-4 double overtime win to take a 2-0 series lead as both clubs head back to New York for Games 3 and 4. The Kings have not led in regulation at any point throughout the first two games of Stanley Cup finals, and yet they won both contests.

Kings captain Dustin Brown scored the winning goal, snapping a 4-4 draw in double overtime to end what was a wildly entertaining playoff match that spanned more than four hours and featured a little bit of everything.

The Rangers, who squandered a 2-0 lead in Game 1 Wednesday night, held another 2-0 lead Saturday, a 3-1 and 4-2 advantage as well, but they couldn’t shut the door on the feisty Kings.

The Kings refused to go quietly despite staring down a 4-2 deficit in the third period, but their third goal did not come without a bit of the controversy.

Dwight King tipped one in for a goal that ignited a plucky Kings squad intent on staging another comeback, but both defenseman Ryan McDonagh and Henrik Lundqvist were livid after the play, arguing with the nearest official about King’s contact with Lundqvist in the crease -- contact that they clearly felt impeded Lundqvist’s ability to make a save.

You could sense the Rangers start to unravel from there, with the Kings buzzing, the crowd getting into it, and the (dreadful) ice tilting in L.A.’s favor. So it was no surprise when leading playoff goal-scorer, and ex-Ranger Marian Gaborik tied the game at 7:36 with his 13th playoff goal this spring.

Rangers forward Chris Kreider has a pair of Grade-A chances in a enthralling overtime period, but couldn't find the back of the net.

Fast and furious: Just as they did in Game 1, the Kings made a big push in the second period. Los Angeles cut the Rangers’ 2-0 lead in half when Jarret Stoll buried the puck into an open net with Lundqvist down on his rear after making an initial save. Martin St. Louis continued his terrific spring, one-timing a shot past Jonathan Quick on the power-play to reclaim a two-goal Rangers lead -- his seventh goal of these playoffs. But when the Kings threatened again, pulling within a goal for the second time on Willie Mitchell’s man-up marker at 14:39, the Rangers made sure to snuff out the surge quickly. The Blueshirts responded in just 11 seconds with a goal from Derick Brassard to take a 4-2 lead into the third period. According to Elias Sports Bureau, that 11-second span was the quickest between two goals scored in a Stanley Cup finals game in 67 years.

Déjà vu: Stop me if this sounds familiar: Kings look sloppy with the puck (granted, the ice also appeared horrendous) and an opportunistic Rangers squad build a 2-0 first-period lead. The Rangers got on the board with defenseman Ryan McDonagh’s hard slapper from the left point at 10:48 of the first, a goal that was created by hard forechecking pressure that forced Game 1 hero Justin Williams to turn the puck over deep in his own zone. A flubbed pass from defenseman Matt Greene later in the period resulted in a sequence of scoring chances for New York that was capped by Mats Zuccarello’s rebound goal at the right post with 7:17 remaining in the period. The Rangers took a two-goal lead in Game 1, but the Kings came charging back for a 3-2 overtime win.

Surprising scratch: Though Kings coach Darryl Sutter said veteran defenseman Robyn Regehr would “probably play” and the 34-year-old himself admitted he was ready to return to the lineup after missing more than a month with a knee injury, Regehr was scratched for the second straight game this series. Though he took part in the pregame warmups, Greene remained in the starting lineup instead. Meanwhile, John Moore returned to bolster the Rangers’ back end after serving a two-game suspension for his hit on Montreal Canadiens forward Dale Weise in the Eastern Conference finals.