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Rangers' power play clicks for one goal plus loads of pressure

Rangers left wing Chris Kreider celebrates his goal

Rangers left wing Chris Kreider celebrates his goal assisted by Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh while playing the Los Angeles Kings during the second period in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final on Friday, June 13, 2014, in Los Angeles. Credit: AP / Mark J. Terrill

LOS ANGELES - The lopsided shot totals in favor of the Kings in Games 4 and 5 of the Stanley Cup Final said it all about which team was the aggressor on offense and which one was fighting just to stay alive.

That's why the Rangers' failure to capitalize on their power-play chances turned into such a critical factor that might have cost them the Stanley Cup after their series-ending 3-2 double-overtime loss in Game 5 on Friday night at Staples Center.

Stuck in a 1-for-19 power-play slump in the Final and trailing 1-0, the Rangers finally snapped out of it with a man-advantage goal by Chris Kreider at 15:37 of the second period.

"We knew it had to be a difference," said power-play point man Ryan McDonagh, whose perfect cross-ice pass found Kreider open left of the crease. "It gave us some life. Yeah, we definitely were alive the rest of that second period. It was unfortunate to give up the lead in the third period. We did that so many times in the series."

After the game went to overtime tied at 2, the Rangers very nearly won when a power-play point shot by McDonagh just over four minutes into OT hit the right post behind Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick and careened away.

That bounce ultimately sent the teams to a second overtime tied at 2.

Once again, the Rangers had a power-play chance after a hooking call on the Kings' Kyle Clifford at 5:43. They put heavy pressure on Quick with two shots on goal and a deflection by Mats Zuccarello that hit the left post.

"We wish we could have got one more in overtime," McDonagh said of the power-play opportunities. "We hit two posts on both of them . . . We kept trying to put it on the net and didn't find the net. We felt confident on our power plays all series but it was the difference at times here and it could have been a big difference in overtime."

Those late-game power-play efforts marked a major improvement over the Rangers' performance earlier in the series and even on two feeble first-period power plays.

The second one carried over 48 seconds into the second period, and the Rangers couldn't put together the passes necessary to gain the zone with control.

Maybe it was their desperation showing, but they found a way to start generating chances with the advantage in the second period.

Both of their power plays in overtime were outstanding, good enough to send the series back to New York if the iron hadn't gotten in the way of the shots by McDonagh and Zuccarello.

"It is what it is," said forward Derek Stepan, who is on the top power-play unit. "We had good looks and just couldn't find a way to get one by. You need your power play to score big goals to win in the playoffs."

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