On the brink of elimination on home ice, the New York Rangers faced a must-win situation in tonight’s game four of the Stanley Cup Final, against the Los Angeles Kings. After being blanked by Jonathan Quick in game three, the boys in blue faced an uphill climb to get back in the series. If the Rangers wanted to force game five in Los Angeles, the Blueshirts needed to put their “big boy” pants on and come out with everything on the line. If the Kings did it against the San Jose Sharks in round one of their playoff run, why not the Rangers?
From the start of the game, the Rangers looked engaged. They stepped up and got in the Kings’ grill. Understanding what was at stake, the Rangers played aggressive and layed punishment to the Kings, led by Anton Stralman and Ryan McDonagh. There was more pushback tonight, as several Rangers were seen shoving the Kings down to the ice.
As the Rangers first power play expired, the Rangers’ Benoit Pouliot gave a “never quit on the puck” effort and got the team on the scoreboard. John Moore, credited with the primary assist, put a slap shot on goal from the point and was deflected on a near high stick by Pouliot. The other assist was credited to Derick Brassard.
The Kings came out in the second period with determination and got on the scoreboard. Kings captain Dustin Brown took advantage of a broken stick from Dan Girardi, as he was trying to keep the puck in the offensive zone. Unassisted, he deked Henrik Lundqvist glove side, and found the back of the net. However, the Rangers got their second goal of the game, courtesy of the former Tampa Bay Lightning captain Martin St. Louis. After Derek Stepan put the puck on goal, St. Louis and Chris Kreider crashed the net. Kreider gathered the rebound and tried to put a shot on goal, as he was falling backwards. fortunately, he was able to put some momentum on the puck and slid it under the pads of Jonathan Quick. Taking advantage of the Kings’ misfortune, St. Louis buried the open netter. Kreider got the primary assist, as Derek Stepan got the secondary on the game winning goal.
Realizing they were down by one goal, the Kings captain almost tied it up with a near chance on Henrik Lundqvist, as the third period was under way. Again, Dustin Brown tried to beat him glove side, but this time he was patient with the puck and tried to out wait the Rangers goaltender. However, Lundqvist stood tall and denied him of the tying goal. For the last 20 minutes of the game, it was desperation mode, on the part of Los Angeles. The Rangers had been playing that way all night, needing to win and stay alive to see another game. They threw everything at the Swedish goaltender, dominating the period in shots with fifteen to the Rangers’ one. At one point, the Kings outshot the Rangers: nine to nothing.
Of course you need a little help from your friends, every now and then. Check out these saves by two players not named Henrik Lundqvist:
Anton Stralman and Derek Stepan became saving graces for the Blueshirts. Two near-goal attempts by the Kings were almost realized as both pucks got pass Henrik Lundqvist. Stralman, and later Stepan in the third period, alertly kept the puck from crossing the red line of the goalie crease and keeping two goals off the board.
As 0:00 was reached, the Rangers finally delivered a win, making the series three games to one. Led by a strong effort from Henrik Lundqvist’s 40-save performance, the Blueshirts force game five and delay party plans for the Kings and their fans. New York lives another day and the Cinderalla story goes on.
Game five will be on Friday at 8:00 pm EST, located at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.