For Rangers, frustration must give way to focus

Sunday, 06.08.2014 / 3:11 AM
Dan Rosen  - NHL.com Senior Writer

LOS ANGELES -- The picture of the New York Rangers' devastation Saturday night sat in the first stall to the right of the entrance into the visitor's dressing room at Staples Center.

There sat goalie Henrik Lundqvist, his head buried underneath his hands, looking inconsolable as the media walked into the room looking for answers as to how and why the Rangers coughed up another two-goal lead in the Stanley Cup Final only to lose in overtime again, this time 5-4 in double overtime to the Los Angeles Kings in Game 2.

Lundqvist, his equipment off at this point, had to gather himself and his thoughts before opening himself up to the interrogators in the room. It's impossible to imagine how difficult this was for him, especially because he was as frustrated as he was devastated at how it unfolded.

One of the goals scored, Lundqvist said, should not have been a goal. It angered him deeply.

"I'm extremely disappointed on that call, or non-call," Lundqvist said. "They got to be consistent with that rule."

The goal in question was scored by Kings forward Dwight King, 1:58 into the third period. It sliced the Rangers' lead to 4-3.

The call in question is interference on the goalkeeper, or at least incidental contact with the goalie in the crease.

King was in front of the net, in the blue paint battling for position with Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh, when Kings defenseman Matt Greene fired a shot from the point. Greene's shot deflected off of King and past Lundqvist. King wound up falling on top of Lundqvist's legs.

Lundqvist said that referee Dan O'Halloran explained to him that the contact came after the puck had gone by him. The goalie said he didn't agree with that explanation.

"That's a wrist shot that I'm just going to reach out for and I can't move," Lundqvist said. "It's a different game after that. It's such an important play in the game."

Kings forward Marian Gaborik scored less than six minutes later to tie the game at 4-4. The Kings won it in double overtime on Dustin Brown's deflection goal at 10:26.

But the fact is that even with King's goal, the Rangers still had the lead with approximately 18 minutes to play. They couldn't hold it.

That's the bigger story about the Rangers in the first two games, regardless of any perceived bad or unlucky goals against.

New York led 2-0 in the first period of Game 1, but gave it back and lost in overtime, 3-2.

It again had a 2-0 lead in the first period of Game 2, then a 3-1 lead and finally 4-2 entering the third, but the Rangers gave it all back and lost in double overtime.

Despite the fact that they haven't trailed yet, the Rangers are in a 2-0 hole in this best-of-7 series going back to Madison Square Garden for Game 3 on Monday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS).

"I don't think we're devastated," Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi said. "Obviously, we're disappointed that we didn't get a better outcome with the two games we played in L.A. We had the lead, a controlling lead, and it's just unfortunate we couldn't hold on to those two-goal leads. But we're a lot happier with how we played [in Game 2]. A lot more jam, played a lot harder. We have to take everything we did well [Saturday] and bring it over to Game 3."

The Rangers also have to find a way to put away the frustration they felt about King's goal. That wasn't happening Saturday night. The wound was too fresh.

Lundqvist said the play in question didn't warrant a goalie-interference penalty on King, but he thought the referee should have blown the play dead because of the incidental contact in the crease.

He complained that the officials called goalie interference on Rangers forward Benoit Pouliot in the second period for contact with Kings goalie Jonathan Quick, who was standing above the crease when the contact was made.

"Benny got pushed in and tried to avoid him and he gets two minutes, and the puck was not even there," Lundqvist said. "Then we have the same play and they score. I don't think it's a penalty, but you've got to stop the play if the goalie can't move in his crease. It's not like I'm outside the crease; I play pretty deep. Just be consistent with it."

King said he was simply just trying to get to the front of the net.

"We were just battling for position," he said. "I was trying to get in front of [McDonagh], but I didn't get there. I was fortunate enough for it to hit me, I guess."

The Rangers haven't been fortunate enough to win yet in this series despite taking 2-0 leads in both games.

They have a six-hour flight home Sunday and can spend it staring in the mirror, because no matter what they thought of King's goal, that wasn't the difference Saturday and it's not the reason they now face the gargantuan task of having to beat the Kings four times in five games.

"You don't have a choice, you have to move on," Lundqvist said. "We go home now and you try to stay positive, believing in what we do in here. We did a lot of good things out there. It's come down to a couple plays that so far they're taking advantage of, a couple mistakes [in] the first two games."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter: @drosennhl

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