LOS ANGELES – They’ve figured out how to do it the hard way; it’s nothing new to this roster. It may not necessarily be by choice, but they’re sticking to it.
The Kings found themselves facing a two-goal first period deficit for the second time in as many games this series on Saturday night, and once again chipped their way back and past the New York Rangers, winning 5-4 win in double overtime at STAPLES Center to take a 2-0 series lead.
The method of winning for the Kings has been an exhausting one, but this roster continues to persevere and find a way to victory with a claw-back approach time and time again.
“I’m a little drained, but you know that’s what it takes to win a game,” Anze Kopitar told reporters following the game. “I think every single guy in here is prepared to drain himself pretty good, so it’s obviously nice to get the win. I think once you’re in the game you don’t really think about anything. It doesn’t matter what period you’re playing in really. You’re just trying to move your feet as good as you can, support the play, make the plays that are there and just be focused really. I guess it really doesn’t matter that it’s double overtime.”
Goals from Ryan McDonagh and Mats Zuccarello gave the Rangers an early edge, but the Kings began to fight back in the opening minutes of the second period with Jarret Stoll’s third goal of the playoffs.
Stoll caught the Rangers’ goaltender Henrik Lundqvist way out of position, and slammed home a Justin Williams pass into an open net to put the Kings on the board 1:46 into the second.
New York’s Martin St. Louis ripped home a gorgeous one-timer past Jonathan Quick on a two-on-one rush that the Kings’ goaltender had little chance of stopping. St. Louis’ goal gave the Rangers a 3-1 lead.
Willie Mitchell would get the Kings back to within a goal with a rocket of a slap shot from the point that lasered through traffic and past Henrik Lundqvist to bring the score to 3-2 with 5:21 to play in the second.
11 seconds after Mitchell’s goal, Derick Brassard got it back for New York, the Rangers reclaiming a two goal lead which they would carry into the second intermission.
The Kings, entering the third period down two goals, got to work immediately. Less than two minutes into the third, Matt Greene fired a wrist shot from the point that Dwight King deflected past Henrik Lundqvist to cut the score to 4-3.
King, who also assisted on Jarret Stoll’s opening tally, now has six points (2G, 4A) in the last five games.
Later in the period, as the Kings were pressing in the Rangers zone, Ryan McDonagh coughed up the puck in front of the net, and after a flurry of chances, Marian Gaborik finally got a clean stick on the puck, and a clean look. Gaborik chipped the puck past Lundqvist to tie the score at 4-4 with 12:24 remaining in regulation time.
With his goal, Gaborik now has 20 points (13G, 7A) in the playoffs. Only Wayne Gretzky (15 goals in 1993) has posted more goals than Gaborik in a single Kings playoff season.
The Kings entered overtime for the third straight game Saturday night, but this time, it would take more than one extra period to get the job done. The Rangers outshot the Kings 8-6 in the first overtime period, but neither team could finish.
There was no sense of fatigue coming from the Kings as they began the second overtime period outshooting the Rangers 5-1. They would put a cap on the game on their sixth shot.
Willie Mitchell, who scored on a slap shot from the point in the second period, wound up in the same fashion just over 10 minutes into the evening’s fifth period. Mitchell fired a shot low to the front of Henrik Lundqvist’s net, where Dustin Brown was stationed, and Brown redirected Mitchell’s shot past Lundqvist to give the Kings a 5-4 victory.
It was Dustin Brown’s first career overtime playoff goal, and the Kings’ Captain now has seven points (3G, 4A) in the last six games.
Justin Williams, with his three assists tonight, tied a playoff career high for points in a single game, and has recorded points in the last four games, totaling in with eight (2G, 6A).
Jonathan Quick was rather solid throughout the night, making 34 saves on New York’s 38 shots. Quick, when asked about the Kings’ holding a 2-0 series lead heading into game 3 at Madison Square Garden, scoffed at that mindset.
“No, it’s zero-zero and we’re trying to win a game in a couple of days here,” Quick told reporters following the game. “Whatever the series, it doesn’t dictate how you play the game. You’re supposed to prepare and win one game at a time. It could easily be two-nothing the other way with the two overtime games. We’re just going to prepare to win a hockey game and we’ll try to do that.”
The series now shifts back to New York City for Game 3, which is slated to be played at Madison Square Garden Monday evening – a 5:00 local start time in Los Angeles.