The Stanley Cup Final isn’t over yet, as the New York Rangers beat the Los Angeles Kings 2-1 thanks to a huge performance from Henriq Lundqvist and finally getting a little bit of luck, avoiding the sweep and making it a 3-1 series, keeping their hope alive for a few more days.
This isn’t time for the usual cliches about being more hungry or putting in more of an effort. The Rangers tried hard, even in the 0-3 loss, to get themselves back in the series. Things simply didn’t go their way and the Kings simply executed and overall played better games. But in game 4 the Rangers finally got bounces to go their way, as Henriq Lundqvist was finally the best goalie on the ice with a few incredible saves and a couple of lucky breaks.
The Kings did put themselves back in the game during the second period with a goal from Dustin Brown. From that moment it was all them, but Lundqvist wouldn’t let them come back from two goals down again. And even when Lundqvist was beaten, the puck simply wouldn’t go in, as in the big goal line pile up at the end of the game the puck went through his legs but simply got stuck on the blue before a mysterious hand came down to save the day.
There was a similar moment in the first period as the ball slipped beneath him and was making his way in before a stick came for the rescue. The Rangers might have played their weakest game of the series but it’s hard to deny that luck, which was on the Rangers’ side in this one, has been a factor in this series, as much as we don’t like to admit that random occurrences play such a huge part in the NHL finals.
The Rangers got on the board first with Benoit Pouliot, scoring after seven minutes in the first period. He reached out with his stick and deflected a John Moore shot, making it impossible for Jonathan Quick, making only 17 saves in the game (19 shots at him), to come up with another remarkable moment like in game 3. The second goal was Martin St. Louis, who has been very quiet in this series, reacting first to a rebound off of a Chris Kreider miss.
Then the Kings went into action, tormenting Dan Girardi, who simply doesn’t have enough speed to compete with Jeff Carter and Marian Gaborik, who had an excellent chance in the second period in front of Lundqvist, but the Swedish goalkeeper made an incredible save with his shoulder as Gaborik was aiming for the top corner. Carter himself was denied three times after skating clear of the Rangers defense.
After the first period the New York Rangers simply disappeared. Their defense completely unraveled, and the Kings time and time again found themselves beyond the last line of defense only not accurate enough to get that equalizing goal. Dustin Brown showed some nice one on one skills when he put them back in the game, but despite their best efforts, that was the last and only time Lundqvist was beaten.
So after a very long time, the New York Rangers not only scored a goal but also avoided a sweep, leaving the 1998 Washington Capitals as the last team to fail and win a game in the Stanley Cup Final. The Kings now have a shot to lift the trophy back in Los Angeles, which few doubt that they will. The Rangers? They got some respect and pride back, and at least don’t have to watch someone else celebrating on their home ice.