New York Rangers at Los Angeles Kings – LAK wins 3-2 (2OT), LAK wins series 4-1
Coming into Game 5, this series had a weird feel to it. There were times in the first two games where it looked like the Rangers deserved a better fate than they received. Game 3 was a mixture of bad bounces for New York and excellent goaltending from Jonathan Quick. Game 4 saw Los Angeles get the better of the play, particularly in the second half of the game, but the Rangers managed to not give up a two-goal lead in this one. Realistically, this series could have been anywhere from even at 2-2 to a sweep for Los Angeles.
Going over the first four games doesn’t really discern much of a pattern except that Los Angeles has been very good in stretches of games but haven’t really put a full sixty minutes together. If Los Angeles wanted to close this series out, they would need a full game effort from their players. In particular, the Kings were pretty much due for a good start. The Rangers had taken several two-goal leads this series and Los Angeles were typically slow out of the gate. The crowd and the moment should have probably been enough to get the Kings going early on for once.
For New York, they would need another performance from Henrik Lundqvist like they got in Game 4. Lundqvist made 40 saves in that one, including a couple key ones particularly in the second period, to shut the door for New York.
The Kings got the start they were looking for in this game. Before the Rangers could register their first shot attempt of the game (at any strength), the Kings registered eight and got a whack-a-puck goal from Justin Williams. It was just the second time in the five games that the Kings opened the scoring and the last time they did that, they shut out the Rangers 3-0.
It was a wild second and third period but went mostly as it had in the previous games. The Rangers controlled the play for much of the first 30 minutes of the game but the tides changed quickly. The teams were tied at 15 shot attempts each early in the second period. At the end of the third period, they were 46-28 (all strengths) in favor of the Kings, going 31-13 after they were tied at 15 each.
Going into overtime, Lundqvist had saved 27 of 29 shots and was a major reason why the Rangers had a chance to extend the series going into extra time.
I cannot possibly describe into words the overtime periods that the teams went through before Alec Martinez scored the overtime winner in the second overtime frame with under six minutes remaining. Just to watch Twitter explode with every post hit, every shot taken, and every rush was an incredible sight to see.
New York had their chances in the second overtime, particularly a power play where they scrambled a couple of good chances but Jonathan Quick was there with the saves. Rick Nash even had a wide open net only to be disrupted by a stick-check by Kings defenseman Slava Voynov. This was truly a game where either team was deserving but Los Angeles was able to finally capitalize with Martinez pinching on a rebound.
Lundqvist most certainly did his part for the Rangers. He had arguably his best game this series (and that’s saying something considering Game 4), saving 48 of 51 shots he faced. He was undoubtedly the most valuable player of this Stanley Cup run for the New York.
Justin Williams won the Conn Smythe trophy as the playoff most valuable performer. Considering his heroics in previous elimination games and the fact he finished with 25 points made it a pretty good choice.
This was an epic game, particularly the overtimes, that hockey is made of. Sitting back as simply a hockey fan tonight, I was blown away by both the action on the ice and the reaction on Twitter.
Congratulations to both teams. It’s not easy for New York to swallow but they did have a great season, better than 28 other teams.
Finally, congratulations to Los Angeles on their second Stanley Cup in three years.
*As always, and I will always be grateful for them, thank you to Extra Skater and Shift Chart for their resources tonight and all season long. I strongly recommend both to anyone with even a passing interest in hockey