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Rangers rally, then hold off Kings

by Curtis Zupke /

LOS ANGELES -- The rematch of the 2014 Stanley Cup Final wasn't much of one for most of the night.

The New York Rangers erased a two-goal deficit with four straight goals and held on for a 4-3 win against the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday at Staples Center in the first game between the teams since the Final last spring. Kevin Klein, Lee Stempniak and Martin St. Louis scored in a three-goal second period for the Rangers (23-11-4), who have won four in a row and are 12-1-0 in their past 13 games, their best run since 1973.

"This is an important stretch for our team here," Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh said. "We're playing well in all three zones, and we're trying to get as many points as we can here. There's no revenge here in this game. We can't change the past. We can only learn from it, and we're trying to be a better team this year."

Center Derick Brassard also downplayed the Final backstory, perhaps because the Rangers only want to look ahead. They have swept the first two games of their California trip, which finishes against the San Jose Sharks on Saturday. The Rangers have outscored their opponents 47-21 in regulation and overtime during their streak.

"It was a little weird to walk into the building, to be honest with you," Brassard said. "But I think after a couple of minutes in the dressing room, you kind of forget about it. Before the road trip, I think the guys were looking forward to coming here and measuring yourself against the best teams in the League. There's nothing better than California, they say. We're having a lot of fun right now and that's a really good thing."

The Kings (19-13-9) pulled to 4-3 on Justin Williams' goal with 4:03 left and got a 6-on-4 advantage with 35.9 seconds to go when Rangers forward Rick Nash was called for tripping after Los Angeles pulled goaltender Jonathan Quick.

But they were unable to capitalize and are in a 1-2-2 slide. The Kings have allowed 11 goals in their past two games, and their penalty kill has gone 3-for-7 in the past three games after the Rangers converted twice in four tries.

"We seem to be in a funk," Williams said. "I think, especially with killing penalties. It's not from a lack of trying. Guys are working as hard as they can. Throughout the season sometimes there are ups and downs. That is a down for us now."

The Rangers previously said the Final loss - which featured three overtime defeats to the Kings at Staples Center, including the Cup-clinching Game 5 -- was still fresh in their minds. They played like it in an impressive second period in which the Kings could not handle their speed. Klein and Stempniak scored 19 seconds apart, with heavy traffic in front of Quick, at 2:31 and 2:50, respectively, to make it 3-2.

"I think speed is very dangerous around the League," Brassard said. "It's pretty hard to contain. A lot of times, if you try to contain [it], you're going to take penalties. That was our bread-and-butter last year. It's not anything different this year. We did the same thing in Anaheim [a 4-1 win on Wednesday]; we used our speed. We've got a couple of guys who can move up front, and they're pretty hard to handle."

St. Louis scored into a wide-open net off Dan Boyle's pass on the power play at 8:17 to give the Rangers a 4-2 lead. The goal came during a hooking penalty to Alec Martinez, the hero of Game 5.

Boyle began the four-goal run with a power-play point shot that hit the stick of Kings center Jarret Stoll on its way to the net at 10:27 of the first period.

But the game boiled down to the second period, and Kings coach Darryl Sutter addressed it with his opening comment.

"We had trouble keeping up with a fast team," Sutter said. "There's two ways of neutralizing speed: be fast yourself and slow them down. Even the [Jeff] Carter line [with Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson], we couldn't handle it."

Rangers starter Henrik Lundqvist was given the night off after the win against the Ducks Wednesday. Backup Cam Talbot made 28 saves for his fourth win in five starts.

Talbot had shutouts in three of his previous four starts, but gave up two goals on the Kings' first five shots. Pearson finished a feed from Carter at 4:12 of the first period to end an 11-game scoring slump, and Williams beat Talbot with a slap shot from above the right circle at 5:49.

Klein and Brassard are on four-game point streaks. Stempniak ended an 11-game scoring drought.

The Rangers have defeated Anaheim and Los Angeles on the road on back-to-back days for the second time in their history. The other time was Dec. 16-17, 2008.

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