New York Rangers at Los Angeles Kings – LAK wins 5-4 (OT), LAK leads series 2-0
Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final saw a two-goal comeback by Los Angeles to eventually win the game in overtime. For New York to go home with a split, despite the falter in Game 1, they would have to come out with a strong first period effort. Two-goal leads are always preferable to two-goal deficits. The Rangers had a 20-15 shot attempt advantage after 20 minutes of Game 1 and would need to play as they did in that first period again to give themselves a hope for a split.
They would also need a big game from Henrik Lundqvist. The loss in Game 1 was by no means his fault but considering the quality of the team at the other side of the ice, he would have to be even better in Game 2.
For Los Angeles, a big story line for the Kings was the fact that the line of Jeff Carter, Tyler Toffoli, and Tanner Pearson were broken up in Game 1. Carter would get Dwight King, Justin Williams and Dustin Brown as line mates in the second half of Game 1. Coach Darryl Sutter is not shy bringing the lineup blender with him and the line that was largely responsible for Chicago’s dismissal from the playoffs was a casualty of that. How Sutter would manage his lines – as well as particular match-ups – was a big storyline heading into Game 2.
The Rangers got exactly what they needed in the first 20 minutes of Game 2. They did get out-shot by the Kings but they managed to score twice and take a 2-0 lead into the dressing room after the first period. One was a point shot from Ryan McDonagh that deflected off of Los Angeles forward Jarret Stoll and past Jonathan Quick. The second goal was a beautiful adjustment one-timer from Martin St. Louis.
The line of Carter/Toffoli/Pearson was reunited. Whether it’s familiarity, chemistry, or maybe a bit of luck, Carter had an excellent forty minutes for Los Angeles. He was not on the ice for a single shot attempt against at five-on-five (and six for), with his old line mates helping shut down the Rangers offense. Though, Derick Brassard’s line was doing an excellent job at creating offense against Anze Kopitar’s line so it kind of balanced out.
Again, Lundqvist wasn’t really the problem for the Rangers on Saturday night but he was a part of a key play early in the third period. Kings forward Dwight King cut through the crease, was boxed in by McDonagh, and seemed to run into Lundqvist. A shot deflected off King and in the net, making it 4-3 early in the third period. It probably should have been called incidental contact as King took a path through the crease but McDonagh didn’t allow him to get through.
The overtime goal was a deflection by Dustin Brown and it’s clear the Kings had a plan to get to the front of the net and disrupt Lundqvist’s vision.
While a five goal game may indicate a poor performance from the goalie Lundqvist was screened, bumped into, and generally annoyed all game by Los Angeles. He didn’t steal this game for the Rangers, obviously, but he didn’t lose it for them either.
Sutter did start mixing the lines around toward the end of the first overtime period. Carter played with Kopitar at times, also alongside Jarret Stoll. Pearson saw his ice time cut down in the overtimes, going four and five minutes at a time without a shift. Carter did finish with a CorsiFor of 57.6 percent. The Kopitar line, which scored the OT winner, had one of their worst games I can remember, with all of Kopitar, Gaborik, and Brown finishing under 44 percent.
*As always, thanks to Extra Skater and Shift Chart.