After some divine intervention in the Rangers’ Wednesday night win, game five returned to Los Angeles’ Staples Center. The Kings had the Blueshirts on the ropes, having the luxury of a three games to one lead. Call it what you will: “Backs against the wall…Nothing to lose…Desperation hockey” all were fitting for the team from New York to describe their present situation in the Stanley Cup Final.
For most of the game, the Kings took it to the Rangers, led by their captain Dustin Brown. The team in black played as a championship team, displaying calmness and confidence. A wild back and forth affair on both ends of the ice was seen. Both goalies were forced to make plays, as both teams swarmed around the net minders, producing scoring chances. The Kings seemed to be in every open area of ice, supporting each other, and hustling to the puck. Not waiting for the puck to come to them.
The Kings struck first. At 13:56 of the first period, Justin Williams backhanded a rebound, in front of the net. With Henrik Lundqvist on his backside, the puck slid under his pads. The play was started from a blast from Willie Mitchell on the blue line. After a mad scramble in front, where Lundqvist made two initial stops, Williams took advantage of the madness in front and capitalized. Assists were credited to Dwight King and Jarret Stoll.
The Rangers looked like a tired team. The Kings made them work up and down the ice. At times, the Rangers seemed content at slapping the puck anywhere. Unfortunately, it would find a Kings’ skate or body in the way. The team had difficulty generating any momentum. If it were not for some brilliant saves by Henrik Lundqvist, the score could have easily been lopsided.
Second chance opportunities were available to the Rangers. There were several plays where shots were put on Jonathan Quick. Those shots led to opportunities for rebounds. However, the puck always seemed to be out of the reach of a Rangers player. If they did get to the puck, Quick or the Kings defense made sure to spoil those chances for the team in white.
However, the story of the second period was the Rangers’ special teams. Yes, both the power play and penalty kill units came up big for New York.
A penalty was called on Dwight King for a high stick to Mats Zuccarello, generating a third power play for the Rangers. After going 0 for 15 with the man-advantage, the Rangers scored a power play goal from Chris Kreider. After good puck movement and being able to set up their offense, he planted himself in front of Jonathan Quick and made good of his opportunity. Assists were credited to Ryan McDonagh and Brad Richards. Once the Rangers were able to tie up the score, it felt like a breath of fresh air had swept through the Rangers’ bench.
However, the team found themselves a man down. Dominic Moore was called for hooking, giving the Kings’ their third PP of the game. Big Brian Boyle puts the Rangers in the lead. After some blue collar work on the penalty kill, the puck found its way into the neutral zone. Shielding his man from the puck, Carl Hagelin passed to a streaking Boyle up ice. Not known for his shooting skills to most Blueshirt fans, he was able to elevate the puck on his forehand above a sprawling Jonathan Quick. Using Drew Doughty as a screen, Boyle sniped the puck top shelf and gave the Rangers a shorthanded goal.
Down by one goal heading into the third period, Los Angeles tied up the score at two. A tripping penalty was called on Mats Zuccarello, giving the Kings their fourth power play. Shortly into it, Marian Gaborik took a wrist shot and scored a power play goal. Assists were credited to Drew Doughty and Jeff Carter.
After two overtimes and non-stop action from both teams, the game finally ended with the Los Angeles Kings coming up with the overtime and Stanley Cup winner. Defenseman Alec Martinez took advantage of a rebound off Henrik Lundqvist. Tyler Toffoli fired a shot on goal, entering the offensive zone. Lundqvist made the initial save, but the rebound found its way towards Martinez, who buried the open netter.
And so, the New York Rangers season came to an end for 2013-2014. In a season that started with doubts and despair, the boys in blue took all of us on ride that could not have been imagined. Don’t fret fans, the future looks bright in Rangerstown!
Congratulations to the Los Angeles Kings, 2013-2014 Stanley Cup Champions.