Game 4: LA leads series 3-1
NEW YORK - The Stanley Cup was in the building on this night. Unfortunately for the Los Angeles Kings, it wasn't presented. The New York Rangers entered Game 4 facing an 0-3 series hole, wanting to win in front of their home fans to force a fifth game of the Stanley Cup Final back in Los Angeles on Friday night. The Rangers got the start they were looking but were on edge throughout much of the latter half of the game. But in the end, the Blueshirts were victorious.
Within the first seven minutes of regulation, the Rangers were pressing in the Kings zone on a Willie Mitchell high-sticking penalty. But just two second after the penalty expired, New York's John Moore blasted a point shot that was tipped in by Benoit Puliot to put the home team out in front. Despite trailing, though, the Kings outshot the Rangers by an 11-7 margin in that opening frame.
In the second, it was the Blueshirts who scored, extending their lead. This was thanks to the wily veteran Martin St. Louis who streaked in on the wing where he tipped in a Derek Stepan cross-ice pass to make it 2-0 New York. Just 1:19 later, though, the Kings caught a break.
With the Rangers in the offensive zone, defenseman Dan Girardi turned the puck over to captain Dustin Brown, who went in on s breakaway before deking out Henrik Lundqvist to score his sixth of the postseason. Just like that, the silver-and-black were back in business. That was all the offense they could muster heading into the third. But again, the Kings outshot the Rangers in the period, this time by a slighter 15-11 margin.
In the third, the Kings took over, outshooting the Rangers 15-1, but they just could not get the puck past that goal line. In the first, the Kings pressed so hard in the opposing crease that the puck landed on the goal line. It happened again late in the third but Derek Stepan pushed it under Henrik Lundqvist with his hand.
Had Stepan covered the puck, the play would have resulted in an automatic penalty shot. However, Stepan only shoveled it with the fingers of his glove, but it still probably should have resulted in a two-minute minor. Unfortunately for the Kings, it didn't, and while they continued to press to tie the game, it wasn't to be as the New York Rangers held on to avoid elimination, winning 2-1.
In my Game 4 preview, I said that Henrik Lundqvist is simply too good of a netminder not to have a solid game in this series. After subpar performances in the first three games of the Final, the Swedish backstop redeemed himself on Wednesday, making 40 stops en route to the win. Lundqvist also had his defensemen to thank who had a great outing themselves.
While Dustin Brown was the only King to record a point in this one, Tanner Pearson had a strong effort, leading his team with eight shots and co-leading with Matt Greene with four hits. Justin Williams also had a good night as he recorded four shots. Jonathan Quick did play well but only made 17 stops en route to the defeat.
Nevertheless, it's onward and upward for the Los Angeles Kings as they head home hoping to end the series in front of their home crowd at Staples Center.