For the second straight game to open up the 2014 Stanley Cup Final the Rangers raced to a 2-0 lead on the road against the Los Angeles Kings Saturday night at the Staples Center, only to see LA come back to tie the game and force overtime. And for the second straight game, the Rangers fell short, falling 5-4 in double overtime in Game Two on Saturday night.
Kings captain Dustin Brown deflected a Willie Mitchell shot past Henrik Lundqvist 10:36 into double overtime to land the Rangers in a 2-0 series hole.
It was a fierecly-played game, with serious ebbs and flows in the action--each team taking its turn at controlling the action, but neither giving in even when it seemed the tide had turned against them. In short it was fairly epic and memorable Stanley Cup Final contest.
Ryan McDonagh, Mats Zuccarello, and Derick Brassard all scored a goal and added an assist for New York, which will host Games Three and Four of the Final Monday and Wednesday at Madison Square Garden.
Justin Williams, the Kings' Game One overtime hero, had a goal and two assists for Los Angeles, which erased a 4-2 third-period deficit on goals by Dwight King (at 1:58) and Marian Gaborik (7:36). The Rangers were fairly under siege from that point onward with Henrik Lundqvist making one game-saving save after another, helping New York reach overtime after making ten stops in the final period of regulation.
The Rangers had the better of the play during the first overtime, outshooting Los Angeles 8-6, and more importantly posessing the puck much more and generating the better scoring chances. Chris Kreider had three fantastic opportunities to win the game during the first overtime--ringing a shot off the post at 7:51, being denied by JOnathan Quick's blocker on a breakaway at 16:21, then stoned by Quick's pad on a putback of an excellent Rick Nash shot with 23.4 seconds to play.
New York killed off a Kings power play in the first OT, while failing on a pair of their own. Lundqvist made a big stop to deny Trevor Lewis shorthanded, and moments later King fired wide from the slot on a 2-on-1 shorthanded opportunity after Brad Richards had fallen down up ice.
McDonagh, who played a monster game all night long, opened the scoring at 10:48 of the first period. Dominc Moore picked off an errant Justin Williams pass in the Kings zone and quickly slid the puck to McDonagh at the left point. With a crowd in front of Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick, McDonagh ripped a slap shot into the back of the net for his fourth goal of the post-season, and for the second straight game in this series, New York had the game's first goal.
The visitors then proceeded to up their lead to 2-0 late in the first period, just as they had done in Game One Wednesday. Zuccarello, who had led the charge out of the Rangers zone earlier in the sequence, finished it off by banging home a rebound of McDonagh's shot at 18:46.
Zuccarello's goal was not only a big one for the Rangers, it was historic, as well. It marked the first time a Norwegian-born player had ever scored a goal in the Stanley Cup Final.
The 2-0 lead help up to the first intermission closing out a first-period which was played at a furious pace and which was not for the faint of heart. McDonagh nailed Jeff Carter with a hip check at 3:30 which sent the Kings center briefly to the dressing room; and Dan Girardi had to shake off a Justin Williams hit and recover in the dressing room a few minutes later. Anton Stralman was buried twice on thunderous hits on the same shift 5:20 into the game, and on the next shift McDonagh hammered Tyler Toffoli into the back boards. Before the period ended McDonagh and Dustin Borwn exchanged nasty cross checks, with only the Rangers defenseman picking up a penalty at 15:06.
The Kings cut into the Rangers lead just 1:46 into the second on a freakish play. Following a Richards turnover, Lundqvist made a sharp save which caused him to drift far out of the net. Jarret Stoll slid a slow-moving shot towards the cage and defenseman Kevin Klein, on his knees in the crease, failed to stop it, and the Rangers lead was 2-1 just 1:46 into the middle stanza.
Martin St. Louis scored the first power play goal for either team in the series to restore New York's two-goal lead at 11:24 of the second. Taking a pretty Derek Stepan feed on right-wing, St. Louis--while falling to the ice--one-timed his shot past Quick, his seventh goal of the playoffs.
The Kings came right back with a power play goal of their own at 14:39 when Willie Mitchell drove a slap shot past Lundqvist, with Zuccarello in the penalty box for a tripping minor. Off the next face off Zuccarello redeemed himself by quickly pouncing on a misplayed puck behind the Kings net and feeding out in front to Brassard who one-timed his sixth playoff goal into the back of the cage, just 11 seconds after Mitchell's goal.
However the Kings showed plenty of push back in the third period, coming all the way back to pull even by the 7:36 mark of the period on goals by King and Gaborik.