Defenseman Alec Martinez scored at 14:43 of a classic extra session, firing the puck past Henrik Lundqvist after the Rangers goalie saved a Tyler Toffoli shot right to him. It was Martinez’s fifth of the postseason.
True to form, it was anything but easy for the Kings.
In 2012, the Kings dominated on their way to the first championship in franchise history. This postseason, they needed an historic rally in first round, becoming the fourth team in NHL history to rally from an 0-3 deficit to defeat the San Jose Sharks; they needed three straight Game 7 victories on the road, an NHL record; and they needed three overtime victories on home ice against the Rangers.
The Rangers, if nothing else, had been hard to kill. They were 5-0 in elimination games in the 2014 playoffs and 11-2 in their last 13 overall. Goalie Henrik Lundqvist had a goals-against average of 1.00 and a save percentage of .971 in those five victories.
It was another goaltending duel between Jonathan Quick (28) and Lundqvist (48 saves), with both goalies stopping hearts deep into overtime.
Unlike the first two OT games at Staples Center, the Kings took an early lead.
Willie Mitchell took the initial shot from the point, sparking a mad scrambling near Henrik Lundqvist. Dwight King had a chance. Jarret Stoll had two chances. Both players were in between Justin Williams and Lundqvist when the Kings forward took a backhand shot that slid under the Rangers goalie for the 1-0 lead at 6:04.
The Rangers tied the game in the second period on the power play, with Dwight King in the box for a high stick.
Brad Richards moved the puck to Ryan McDonagh, who slid to the left circle near Quick. Kings defenseman Willie Mitchell moved away from the front of the net where he was defending Chris Kreider, but Matt Greene couldn't get over fast enough to mark him. Instead, McDonagh slid a pass to Kreider for the deflection past Quick at 15:37, his fifth goal of the playoffs.
The Rangers had been 1-for-19 previously in the series.
It was their other special teams unit that would give them the lead at 19:30 of the second period.
Carl Hagelin won a puck battle at center ice with Slava Voynov – who skated a shift of 2:29 that began before the holding penalty on Dominic Moore – and sent a pass to a streaking Brian Boyle. The Rangers penalty killer flew past Drew Doughty, who had skated 1:53 on his shift, and moved in on Quick. His shot, altered slightly by Doughty’s stick, snapped in and out of the top right corner of the net behind Quick for the 2-1 lead.
It was the third shorthanded point for both Boyle and Hagelin in these playoffs.
The third period featured the Kings starting slowly, but that changed after a barrage of three shots around seven minutes into the period that had the Rangers reeling. Coach Alain Vigneault called a time out, but the crowd was back into it.
On the next shift, Mats Zuccarello took a questionable tripping penalty – his leg simply appeared to collide with that of Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin – and the Kings cashed in on the power play.
Jeff Carter dished to Drew Doughty at the point, who fired a shot on Lundqvist. Marian Gaborik, in a bear hug from Rangers defenseman Anton Stralman, managed to get his stick between the pads of Lundqvist and fire the puck in for his playoffs-leading 14th goal at 7:56.
But the teams would need extra time to settle it.
Overtime was intense, with both teams getting chances. Derek Stepan and Rick Nash missed on great chances. Ryan McDonagh fired the puck off the post with the Rangers on the power play, with it just bouncing wide of Quick's skate. In the second overtime, Dan Girardi's point shot hit several bodies before bouncing off the post.
For the Kings, Tyler Toffoli of the Kings hit iron too, later in the period. Jeff Cater put one off the post in the opening minute of double overtime.