NEW YORK – The Los Angeles Kings were playing for their coronation. King Henrik had other plans.
New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist made 40 saves, keeping the Rangers alive and sending the Stanley Cup Final back to Los Angeles with a 2-1 victory over the Kings.
Los Angeles leads the best of seven series, 3-1.
"We just talked about that whatever happens, we're winning this game. We're not losing two in a row at home," Lundqvist said on NBC.
Lundqvist entered the game with a stellar 10-2 record and a .957 save percentage in his last 12 potential elimination games for the Rangers, and didn’t disappoint in Game 4. He made several key stops, swallowing up rebounds and keeping the Kings’ high-octane offense muted.
He was downright brilliant in the third period, with solid saves on great chances from Tyler Toffoli and Dustin Brown while the Rangers failed to register a shot for nearly 14 minutes in the final frame. The Rangers were outshot 26-3 after the Kings' Dustin Brown scored in the second period.
Twice Lundqvist was saved by bad ice behind him, and his teammates' quick defense. In the first period, defenseman Anton Stralman swept a puck away as it was slowly moving over the line. In the third, with 1:11 left, the puck literally stopped in the slush behind him, allowing Derek Stepan to move it under Lundqvist.
Meanwhile, his team gave him just enough offense with which to work.
The Rangers struck right after the first power play of the game ended in the opening period.
Defenseman John Moore had the puck at the point and fired it on goal. It was tipped home with a brilliant raise of the blade by Benoit Pouliot for his fifth of the playoffs at 7:25. Derick Brassard had the other assist.
The Rangers made it 2-0 in the second period as Marty St. Louis, who had a very strong game, netted his eighth of the playoffs.
St. Louis started the play giving the puck to Derek Stepan, who fired the puck from the top of the zone. Alec Martinez tipped the puck on his own goalie Jonathan Quick who made the save, but St. Louis was there to knock it home at 6:27.
Then the Kings got back into it, thanks to yet another embarrassing moment for Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi.
In the waning seconds of a Rangers’ power play, Girardi attempted to play the puck. His stick broke, allowing Dustin Brown to take off down the ice. The Kings captain made five dekes before tucking the puck past Henrik Lundqvist to cut the lead to 2-1.
Girardi previously surrendered the puck to the Kings for their Game 1-winning overtime goal and had Jeff Carter’s shot go off his skate with 0.7 seconds left in the first period of the Rangers’ Game 3 loss.
But the Kings wouldn’t find any more “puck luck” against Lundqvist, and the Rangers avoided the sweep.
Just like when they won the Stanley Cup in 2012 – after two overtime wins and a Game 3 shutout – the Kings dropped Game 4, extending the series.
They would also lose Game 5 to the New Jersey Devils as well. The Rangers hope history continues to repeat on Friday night back at Staples Center.
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