Hoping to avoid a 2-0 series hole, the New York Rangers hope to salvage their Stanley Cup Final run in Game Two against the Los Angeles Kings Saturday night at Staples Center.
The Rangers are in unfamiliar territory after losing Game One. In the first three rounds of the playoffs New York won each opening game, but didn’t have such luck against the Kings.
After a blazing 2-0 start in the first period of Game One, the Rangers slowed down and succumbed to the Kings increased defensive pressure and goaltender Jonathan Quick’s stellar play in a 3-2 overtime loss. Right wing Justin Williams capitalized on the critical missed clearance by Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi and fired off a goal past keeper Henrik Lundqvist to hand L.A. a 1-0 series lead.
The mishap soured an excellent all-around performance from the Rangers Lundqvist, who totaled 40 saves off 43 attempts, tying his best total in any game during the playoffs.
With the defenses focused on stymieing each side’s top playmakers, the role players stepped up.
Other than Williams, Kings left wing Kyle Clifford scored his first goal of the playoffs to halt the Rangers blistering early run and defenseman Drew Doughty rifled a powerful slap shot following Jeff Carter’s assist.
New York’s attack came from their second and third lines, with left wing Benoit Pouliot forcing a takeaway in the neutral zone and outracing the Kings defense to beat Quick stick side for an unassisted, breakaway score and a 1-0 lead. It was the fourth goal of the playoffs for Pouliot, but his first point since the second round against Pittsburgh.
Rangers left wing Carl Hagelin notched his seventh goal of the postseason by flying past defender Slava Voynov and slapping a hard shot, which Quick initially saved, but it ricocheted into the net.
Those first two goals were Quick’s only mistakes, and he went on to a 25-save performance, denying New York on their next 14 shots on goal.
The Kings head coach Darryl Sutter also toyed with his lineup during the comeback in Game One, with his top line forwards struggling to make an impact.
"Partway through the first period, once I recognized guys didn't have their game; it wasn't just Mike [Richards] and [Williams], it was a lot of guys. Jeff played a lot with Kyle and Trevor [Lewis]," Sutter said to NHL.com. "[Stoll] played with everybody. Basically we were trying to manage [Kopitar's] game."
Sutter was referring to his top scorer and assist man in the regular season, center Anze Kopitar. The Yugoslav scored 29 goals and aided in another 41 during the regular season, but after totaling 19 points in the first two rounds of the postseason, Kopitar faded slightly against Chicago with only five points, all off assists. His last goal came in Game Seven against Anaheim.
Start Time: 7 p.m.
TV Channel: NBC
Live Online Stream: A live online stream is available at NBC Live Extra here.