Lead squandered, Rangers just can't cash in on big chances in 2-OT loss to Kings
LOS ANGELES - Right now, the Kings are in a really good place. They have not led in regulation for even a second in the first two games of the Stanley Cup Final -- but for the second straight game, they emerged victorious.
They rallied for a 5-4 win over the Rangers on Saturday night on Dustin Brown's goal 10:26 into the second overtime, putting a serious dent in the Blueshirts' Cup hopes. Brown, in front, deflected Willie Mitchell's shot from the point to end the longest Final game in Rangers history.
Los Angeles has a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series, which shifts to New York for Games 3 and 4 Monday night and Wednesday night.
In the first overtime, the Rangers -- who had led 2-0, 3-1 and 4-2 -- had the better chances, and no luck. With 8:40 gone, Chris Kreider hit the left post from the slot. With 6:11 left, Mats Zuccarello spun around the net and fired high. Jonathan Quick just got a sliver of Kreider's wrister on a breakaway. In the final seconds, Derick Brassard's rising wrister hit Quick's left shoulder and bounced away.
"We had a lot of chances, especially in the first overtime," Brassard said. "We were right there with them; we just have to steal the next one."
Teams that win the first two games of the Final at home are 33-3 to win the series. But they are 16-20 in Game 3.
For the Rangers, the turning point came early in the third when the Kings, trailing 4-2, scored a controversial goal. Dwight King tangled with Ryan McDonagh in the crease and bumped Henrik Lundqvist as the shot went in the net at 1:58. Lundqvist was irate, but no interference was called.
"They score a goal and I can't even move," Lundqvist said. "It's extremely frustrating. I'm extremely disappointed on that call, or non-call. They've got to be consistent with that rule . . . It's such an important play in the game."
"Any time the other team scores a goal, it impacts the team. It gave them life," Carl Hagelin said. "Obviously not happy with that call, the interference."
Asked if King should have been called for interference, Alain Vigneault said: "Ask the NHL."
The Kings then tied the score at 7:36 when Derek Stepan and McDonagh couldn't control a loose puck in front and former Ranger Marian Gaborik popped it past Lundqvist. It was his playoff-leading 13th goal.
"Tough loss," Dan Girardi said. "We give up a couple two-goal leads, but we're not panicking. We're still in games. We just can't find a way to get that next one or hold on to a lead a little longer."
Mitchell's slap shot from the left point on the power play closed the Kings' deficit to 3-2 at 14:39 of the second period, but right after the next faceoff, Quick left the puck behind his goal for Mitchell, who whiffed on it. Zuccarello, who had scored in the first period, found Brassard in front for a goal 11 seconds after Mitchell's goal.
The Rangers had extended their 2-1 lead at 11:24 of the second during a power play. Stepan took a short pass on a rush from Kreider, skated down the left side and hit Martin St. Louis with a pretty cross-ice pass. St. Louis, while falling, went top shelf over Quick's extended glove to make it 3-1.
The Rangers had been 0-for-5 with the man-advantage in this series.
At the start of the period, the Rangers fumbled away their second two-goal lead in two games.
Lundqvist was sprawled out near the right circle after stopping an initial shot, but Jarret Stoll managed to slide the loose puck past Lundqvist and through Kevin Klein, who was guarding the open net, at 1:46.
After a physical first period, the Rangers led 2-0 on goals by McDonagh and Zuccarello.
Hagelin, who scored shorthanded in Game 1 and was stopped on another breakaway, forced a turnover by Williams with a forecheck and McDonagh ended up with a one-timer from the left point. The shot appeared to hit Stoll's skate and rose, through traffic in front, and past Quick at 10:48. The Rangers struck again when Zuccarello, alone near the right post, whacked in a rebound with 1:14 remaining.
"I'm really upset about the result, but I'm not going to overanalyze it," St. Louis said. "Both games could've gone either way. We're just on the wrong side right now."