LOS ANGELES -- Things looked bleak for the Los Angeles Kings in the third period Friday, just as they did so many times earlier in the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
They were behind 2-1 to the New York Rangers entering the final period in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final, meaning they were 20 minutes away from facing another coast-to-coast flight to New York and looking down the barrel of a second straight missed opportunity to win the Cup for the second time in three seasons.
But the Kings never panicked. They were in far more desperate straits before in this year's playoffs. Trailing by a goal with 20 minutes remaining? No problem.
NEW YORK -- Henrik Lundqvist put forth a world-class performance Wednesday night. But the New York Rangers' goaltender had a little help from his teammates, as well as a dash of the 'puck luck" that eluded the Eastern Conference champions in the first three games of the Stanley Cup Final.
That luck was epitomized with 1:11 remaining in a third period dominated by the Los Angeles Kings when left wing Tanner Pearson redirected a shot that squeaked through Lundqvist's pads, only to die right on the goal line. In a mad scramble, Rangers center Derek Stepan managed to push the puck under his goaltender and get a whistle.
That came after Rangers defenseman Anton Stralman denied Jeff Carter what appeared to be an easy tap-in with 8:10 left in the first period. With the puck laying on the goal line, Stralman got his stick on top of Carter's and prevented the Kings center from scoring what would have been his 11th goal of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
NEW YORK -- The Los Angeles Kings played a near-perfect road period to start Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final on Monday at Madison Square Garden.
They bottled up the New York Rangers, taking away their speed, which many believed was the biggest advantage held by New York. They limited the Rangers to intermittent shots, refusing to let them get a foothold in the attacking zone and generate a sustained attack. They took the crowd, filled with fans that have waited 20 years to celebrate the return of the Stanley Cup Final to the Garden, out of the game almost from the start.
With all that accomplished, the Kings would have been happy to go into the first intermission after a scoreless opening period. Instead, Jeff Carter gave them the lead, scoring at the last possible second.
The Los Angeles Kings' goalie had given up four goals in the first 34 minutes and 50 seconds of Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final at Staples Center. But his never-say-die teammates were determined to give him a second chance; they erased a third two-goal deficit and tied the game early in the third period.
Quick took the opportunity at redemption to heart immediately.
Twenty seconds after Marian Gaborik got the Kings even at 4-4, Quick had to make the save of the night to keep the New York Rangers from regaining the lead.
Brad Richards was five feet away from the crease, all alone, the puck on his stick after a pass from Carl Hagelin. But Quick somehow got across his crease with the flash of his left leg to stop the one-timer and kick the rebound past the put-back attempt by Richards.
LOS ANGELES -- Not much was going right for the Los Angeles Kings in the first period of Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final at Staples Center on Wednesday.
The New York Rangers already had scored two goals during a 102-second span in the first period, including a gift of a second goal that came while the Kings were on the power play. On that play Rangers forward Carl Hagelin broke in alone but was stopped by goalie Jonathan Quick. However, the rebound clanked off the skates of backchecking defenseman Slava Voynov and trickled into the net.
It was not the start the Kings envisioned. They were tired, having played overtime in Game 7 against the Chicago Blackhawks three nights earlier. They were facing an uphill battle, and as defenseman Willie Mitchell so eloquently said, they appeared to be skating in rubber boots, not ice skates.
All of that changed 2:30 later when the Kings got a goal from the most unlikely of sources: Forward Kyle Clifford. It started a three-goal rally that ended with the Kings winning the opener of the best-of-7 series 3-2 on an overtime goal by Justin Williams.
CHICAGO -- So often before a Game 7 players from the two combatants will stress the importance of the first goal, and the all-time numbers in NHL history back up that theory.
This Los Angeles Kings group has defied convention on so many occasions during the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs that rallying for a 5-4 overtime victory after yielding not only the first but the second goal in Game 7 of the Western Conference Final against the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks was a fitting conclusion.
"Obviously we're looking around after being down 2-0, saying this wasn't it for us, it wasn't going to end this way," Kings forward Justin Williams said. "Heck, we've battled back so many times this year, so many times so far in these playoffs. We said, Why not again [Sunday]?"
LOS ANGELES -- Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane scored the game-winner Friday in Game 6 of the Western Conference Final with an unbelievable individual effort. But that goal, which gave the Blackhawks a 4-3 victory against the Los Angeles Kings and forced a Game 7, wouldn't have come without an equally sublime play from the superstar forward almost five minutes earlier.
Kane's exquisite assist on defenseman Duncan Keith's goal, which made it 3-3 with 8:26 remaining in regulation, was the turning point of the game -- and perhaps the series.
Game 7 is Sunday in Chicago (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS).
The acrobatics were not only necessary, they were game-changing.
Lundqvist's remarkable, highlight-reel blocker save on Montreal Canadiens forward Thomas Vanek's deflected shot at 15:15 of the second period in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final preserved what at the time was a 0-0 game.
The fantastic save loomed larger less than three minutes later, when Rangers forward Dominic Moore scored what turned into the only goal of the game in a 1-0 series-clinching win for the Rangers, who earned their first trip to the Stanley Cup Final since 1994.
CHICAGO -- The defending Stanley Cup champions spent the second intermission Wednesday knowing they needed a goal or it would be the last in-game break of the season.
Ben Smith provided that goal for the Chicago Blackhawks, and it didn't take very long. Smith scored his third goal of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs 77 seconds into the third period of Game 5, and the Blackhawks defeated the Los Angeles Kings 5-4 in double overtime to avoid elimination.
MONTREAL -- The Montreal Canadiens' three-goal lead was gone, wiped out by the New York Rangers in a span of 4:24 in the second period of Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Final. Goalie Dustin Tokarski could have been reeling and questioning himself, except he didn't have time.
Dorsett didn't quite get there, but Boyle had an angle, so he blasted a shot from the left circle. Tokarski made the save, directing the puck into the corner. Bouillon got to it first, chipped it up and started a rush that that led to Rene Bourque's game-winning goal.
It's an incredible feeling just to see it go in and see the Joe go pretty crazy. Ever since the introduction there, I was kind of feeling the nerves, and to put that one home, I started to feel comfortable and I thought my play started to pick up.
— Nineteen-year-old Red Wings forward Dylan Larkin after scoring a goal in his NHL debut
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