And so it began.
The Stanley Cup Final had arrived. Game one got underway at the Staples Center, in Los Angeles, CA. There wasn’t much bulletin board material to draw inspiration from, in the days leading up the series showdown. For now, it was a welcome distraction from the rigors of a fan’s everyday routine.
The battle between the New York Rangers and Los Angeles Kings was finally here.
With the opening puck drop, the Stanley Cup got underway. To start the game, the Kings set the tone early by playing a physical game. In the first five minutes of the game, the Kings’ size was matched by the Rangers’ speed.
The game’s first penalty was called on the Kings Alec Martinez for hooking of Rangers forward Carl Hagelin. And with that, New York had the first power play of the game. Unfortunately, the team was unable to capitalize and the teams returned to even strength.
Both goaltenders were tested early, as scoring opportunities were there for the taking.
At 6:39, the Rangers broke the scoreless tie. Off a Kings’ turnover at the blue line, third liner Benoit Pouliot had a breakaway opportunity. He roofed a shot over Jonathan Quick’s right shoulder and made it 1-0.
The Kings received their first power play of the game off a holding penalty called on Mats Zuccarello. Rangers quickly made it 2-0 off a shorthanded chance from Carl Hagelin. He took a backhanded shot off Quick and the puck bounced off Slava Voynov. To his surprise, the puck found the back of the net.
As the period ended, the Rangers found themselves with a one goal lead, heading to the dressing room. For the Kings, the team gave away too many pucks, eight total.
As the second started, no penalties were carried over to start the period.
For the first seven minutes, the Rangers were able to sustain the puck in the offensive zone. Their forecheck was present and caused havoc for the Kings.
At 13:24, Kings all-star defenseman Drew Doughty was able to dance his way to the net. He put the puck past Henrik Lundqvist and notched the game at two all. Assists were credited to Justin Williams and Kyle Clifford.
One thing that started brewing was the tension between the two teams. Lots of post-whistle scrums were seen. It was safe to say the “feeling out” period was over, and the real hockey game began.
At the start of the third period, the Rangers had 0:41 seconds left with the man-advantage from the second. Unfortunately, the Rangers failed to capitalize on their third power play opportunity.
In the first seven minutes of the period, the Rangers were outshot 10-0, thanks to the stifling defense of the Los Angeles Kings.
At 12:06, offsetting penalties were assessed to both teams. Rangers forward Rick Nash was called for a holding penalty. Drew Doughty was called for embellishment as he fell to the ice. Four on four hockey resulted for two minutes.
For the rest of the period, up and down hockey was witnessed, with Henrik Lundqvist being the busier of the two goaltenders. At one point, the Kings put 18 shots on the netminder, compared two by the Rangers on Jonathan Quick.
With 1:36 left in the period, Rangers Brian Boyle was called for slashing, giving the Kings their fourth power play of the game. Carl Hagelin had another shorthanded opportunity, but Jonathan Quick stood his ground and kept the puck out of the net. The Kings Jeff Carter nearly had a power play, and possible game winning goal, on Henrik Lundqvist. After driving to the back of the Rangers’ net, he put the puck on goal which deflected off Hagelin’s skate, almost kicking it in. However, Lundqvist recovered and sprawled across the ice to keep the puck out.
As time ticked down to zero in regulation, we would see our first overtime of the series.
The Kings began overtime with 0:224 seconds left on the power play from the third.
With 15:24 left in overtime, the Kings got one past Henrik Lundqvist. After a desperation play from Dan Girardi to get the puck out of the zone, Mike Richards found the puck on his stick and dished to a wide-open Justin Williams. He was able to wrist a shot, top-shelf on Lundqvist’s blocker side.
With that game winning, overtime goal, the Los Angeles Kings draw first blood and take a 1-0 series lead.
Game two will be Saturday at 7:00 pm EST at the Staples Center.