The New York Rangers barely escaped elimination with a 2-1 victory against the Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday night.
Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist stopped 41 shots on the night stunning the Los Angeles Kings with several acrobatic saves. He ended the game with a .975 save percentage.
Benoit Pouliout scored the go ahead goal for the home side Rangers in the first period. Veteran forward Martin St. Louis added to the lead, scoring his eighth goal of the playoffs in the second period. But just minutes after, a broken stick allowed Kings Captain Dustin Brown to blow by Rangers defencemen Dan Girardi and cut the lead to 2-1.
That response from the Los Angeles Kings shifted all the momentum. The Kings began outworking the Rangers and peppered Lundqvist with wave after wave of difficult screen shots. Ranger’s defencemen Anton Stralman saved a goal in the second period when he sat on the puck just before it crossed the goal line. Rangers forward Derek Stepan also made a goal line save when he shoved the puck under Lundqvist with his glove to force a faceoff late in the game.
Overall, this was some of the best desperation style hockey I’ve seen in a long time. The New York Rangers did absolutely everything to get the win. Martin St. Louis scored a goal, blocked shots and took some pretty nasty hits as well. Lundqvist stole the show and basically carried his team to victory.
The Rangers know they were very fortunate win this game. They were outshot 15-1 in the third period and outplayed for most of the game. But when you’re fighting for your life in a Stanley Cup final series, the win is all that matters.
I believe that this win and the incredible play of Henrik Lundqvist may give the Rangers the confidence boost they need to get back into this series. It’s still going to be quite a long shot but with Lundqvist in goal, anything can happen.
However, New York really has to tighten things up in the defensive end if they hope to stay alive in the next game. The Kings were able to gain the offensive zone far too easily in my opinion. The Rangers defence must start attacking the Kings way sooner instead of just backing up. I counted three times in game four when the Kings forwards were able to cut in, beat the two Rangers defencemen and get a shot on goal.
Tanner Pearson did it twice and Jeff Carter also did it. That is unacceptable and I certainly hope the Rangers will not leave it all up to Lundqvist in game five. Lundqvist is an exceptional goalie, but he certainly could use some more help from his defencemen.
The Kings did a wonderful job using their speed to create chances. Their crash the net strategy almost worked on several occasions. Jeff Carter, Jarret Stoll and the Kings were dominate in the faceoff circle beating the Rangers 41-24. They heavily outshot their opponent and goalie Jonathan Quick kept the Kings in the game, stopping 19 shots.
This will be a tough loss to swallow for them. But I’m certain they’ll be able to regroup and try to win the Stanley Cup on home ice. I can’t wait to see if the Kings will be able to win the Cup in front of their home fans on Friday.