The Stanley Cup finals began on Wednesday evening in Los Angeles with the home side Kings defeating the New York Rangers 3-2 in overtime. Veteran Justin Williams scored the game winning goal, pouncing on a loose puck in the offensive zone and roofing a shot past Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist. A failed clearing attempt from Rangers defencemen Dan Girardi is what gave the Kings the 1-0 lead in the series. Kyle Clifford and Drew Doughty scored the other goals for the Kings. Kings goalie Jonathan Quick made 25 saves on the night to hold on for the win.
But as usual, the King’s did not make it easy on themselves. They were very sloppy in the early stages of the game, turning the puck over eight times in the first period alone. The Rangers did a wonderful job capitalizing on these turnovers, jumping to an early two goal lead. Benoilt Pouiot scored his fourth of the playoffs and Carl Hagelin scored a shorthanded goal to stun the Kings and their fans. However, a late first period goal, courtesy of Kyle Clifford woke the Kings up and sparked yet another come from behind victory.
This game showcased what Stanley Cup hockey should be. There was plenty of end to end action and both teams were evenly matched. It was the hard hitting Los Angeles Kings against the speedy New York Rangers. I believe the Rangers held the edge in play in this game. They used their speed affectively and set the pace at the beginning of every period. They created a considerable amount of turnovers and used their speed to open up the Kings defence. This will certainly be seen as a missed opportunity for the New York Rangers. And the blame cannot be put on goalie Henrik Lundqvist by any means. Lundqvist stopped 40 shots on the night and did everything he could to keep his team in the game.
For the Kings this is a wonderful start to the series. They were nervous and careless at the start of the game, but didn’t panic. Jeff Carter assisted on the goal that launched the comeback. Drew Doughty was guilty of giving the puck away a couple of times, but redeemed himself by scoring the tying goal. Justin Williams assisted on the tying goal, scored the game winner and gave his team the lead in the series. Williams has been one of the go to guys for the Kings all throughout these playoffs. Every single one of his eight playoff goals has led to a shift in momentum for the Kings. This guy always seems to find his stride in the playoffs and I’m sure he’ll continue to be a factor in this final series.
I don’t believe the Rangers have to change much of their strategy for game two. They just need to continue using their speed to dictate the play. The Rangers just need to add more shots on goal. They’ve done a decent job blocking shots in their defensive end, and did a good job getting traffic in front of Jonathan Quick. I believe if the Rangers put more pucks on net, goals will come. I can’t wait to see if Martin St. Louis and the Rangers will be able to steal a win on the road on Saturday in Los Angeles.
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