Without having led a single minute in the 2014 Stanley Cup Final, the Los Angeles Kings hold a 2-0 lead over the New York Rangers thanks to a tip-in goal from Dustin Brown in double-overtime Saturday night. The Kings trailed by two goals at two separate occasions against the Rangers, but this latest comeback continues to prove why Los Angeles is the most resilient, determined and toughest team in the NHL.
With the Kings jumping out to a 2-0 lead in a series for the second time this postseason, they find themselves in a position that contradicts their entire playoff run. Los Angeles has mastered the comeback, both in series and games this spring. In their last three playoff contests, dating back to Game 7 against the Chicago Blackhawks, the Kings have not held a lead in any game. Yet, they are 3-0 and now only two wins away from winning their second Stanley Cup in three years.
On Saturday night the Rangers executed their game plan to a “T” early in the game. They dumped pucks into the Kings’ end and won races to loose pucks. The straight-ahead speed of Chris Krieder and Mats Zuccarello are just two examples of the quickness the Rangers have up front. Combined with the knack for offensive inclusion by Ryan McDonagh, who had a goal and an assist in a losing effort, New York played very well for the first half of the game. And yet, they trail 2-0.
The Kings used three tipped goals, including the game winner, and two loose pucks in front of the net off rebounds to score on Henrik Lundqvist. With both Henrik and Jonathan Quick so good at making saves with and without traffic in front, the key to scoring comes off tips and rebounds near the front of the net. Brown’s goal came off a tip from a Willie Mitchell slap shot from the point about five feet in front of the crease. Lundqvist had no chance on the redirection and the Kings celebrated on home ice once again. Justin “Game Seven” Williams had three assists and continues to make a case as a Conn Smythe candidate after another impressive performance.
The Rangers had their chances and were unable to capitalize. Scoring four goals on Quick is by no means a small feat. Even though Quick has struggled in the playoffs, he still remains a rock in the net. The knowledge that Quick will most likely not give up four goals again gives the Kings a world of confidence moving forward in this series.
While the Rangers are not completely dead in the water, the sharks are circling. A two goal lead in this postseason has proven to be more detrimental than positive. The same cannot be said with a 2-0 series lead, but New York needs a convincing victory in Game 3 to have any chance to win the Stanley Cup.