NHL Finals: Dramatic comebacks are Kings' winning formula
LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Kings insist they cannot continue to rely on comeback victories — though their dramatic rallies have been a winning formula in taking a 2-0 lead over the New York Rangers in the best-of-seven Stanley Cup Finals.
Slow starts and frantic finishes have become a signature of the Kings this postseason, and though it is a dangerous style it has them within two wins of their second championship in three years.
“We’re getting away with it,” Kings center Jarret Stoll said after Los Angeles won 5-4 in double overtime on Saturday night. “Don’t get me wrong, we did a lot of good things to come back (and) showed resiliency.
“(But) we’ve got to be honest with how we’re playing. We know we got more.”
That is a scary proposition for the Rangers, who have been teased in consecutive games only to lose a pair of leads and fall behind in the series.
Los Angeles pulled off the trick once again in Game 2 on Saturday, when it fell behind 2-0 in the first period and again trailed 4-2 entering the third.
But that’s when the Kings again delivered the late-game magic they have become known for.
Dwight King and Marian Gaborik scored in the third to tie the score and Dustin Brown provided the heroics with his game-winning goal in the second overtime that put the Kings in control of the series.
It was almost predictable for the home Staples Center crowd that has grown accustomed to watching its team pull itself out of trouble.
“Whether we’re down two, up two, the situation doesn’t change for us,” said Brown, the captain. “Everyone is talking about how we come back. I think it’s more how we turn the tide of the game over the course of the game.”
Los Angeles has turned that tide throughout the playoffs, beginning in the first round when they overcame a 3-0 best-of-seven deficit to San Jose and won the series.
The Kings then topped the Anaheim Ducks in seven games, despite trailing 3-2 in the best-of-seven, and squeezed past Chicago in a Game 7 overtime thriller to decide the West finals.
Los Angeles has now played in three consecutive overtime games, winning them all. The thrilling finishes, though, have added to their minutes logged, which could be a future concern.
“Takes its toll. (It) always does,” said Kings coach Darryl Sutter, of all the extra sessions.
“There’s a lot of guys that played a lot of minutes; 23 (games played this postseason). That’s a lot.”
The Kings may be tempting fate, or rewriting it, but their slow start in games is a cause of concern as they head to New York for Game 3 tonight.
The Rangers have outscored Los Angeles 4-1 in the first periods of the two games and appeared the faster, crisper team in the early going.
If the Kings can flip the script and play better earlier, maybe they will not need more Hollywood endings to lift the Stanley Cup.
“We’ve been through a lot of emotional ups and downs,” Brown said. “I’m confident in our group. It’s a matter of resetting, reloading and dialing it in for Game 3.”
Los Angeles 5, NY Rangers 4, 2OT
NY Rangers 2 2 0 0— 4
Los Angeles 0 2 2 1— 5
First Period—1, NY Rangers, McDonagh 4 (Moore) 10:48. 2, NY Rangers, Zuccarello 5 (McDonagh, Brassard) 18:46. Penalties—Gaborik, LA (Tripping), 7:58; McDonagh, NYR (Cross checking), 15:06.
Second Period—3, Los Angeles, Stoll 3 (Williams, King) 1:46. 4, NY Rangers, St. Louis 7 (Stepan, Kreider) 11:24 (pp). 5, Los Angeles, Mitchell 1 (Voynov, Williams) 14:39 (pp). 6, NY Rangers, Brassard 6 (Zuccarello) 14:50. Penalties—Greene, LA (Tripping), 2:26; Pouliot, NYR (Goaltender interference), 7:07; bench, LA (Too many men on ice), 10:44; Zuccarello, NYR (Tripping), 12:43.
Third Period—7, Los Angeles, King 3 (Greene, Williams) 1:58. 8, Los Angeles, Gaborik 13 (unassisted) 7:36.
Overtime—Penalties—Moore, NYR (High sticking), 10:01; Williams, LA (Interference), 11:24; Carter, LA (Goaltender interference), 14:27.
Second Overtime—9, Los Angeles, Brown 5 (Mitchell, Kopitar) 10:26.
Shots on Goal—NY Rangers 10-12-7-9—38. Los Angeles 9-11-12-12—44.
Power-play opportunities—NY Rangers 1 of 5. Los Angeles 1 of 4.
Goalies—NY Rangers Lundqvist 12-6-3 (44 shots-39 saves). Los Angeles Quick 14-7-2 (38-34).
A—18,532 (18,118). T—4:10. Referees—Dan O’Halloran, Wes McCauley. Linesmen—Derek Amell, Brad Kovachik.