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Rangers try to rebound vs. Kings in Game 2

The SportsXchange

New York Rangers coach Alain Vigneault fully understands the Los Angeles Kings' brand of hockey.

For seven years, he coached against the Kings when he was with Western Conference rival Vancouver.

With that knowledge, Vigneault's Rangers will try to rebound from Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final -- the Kings came from behind to win 3-2 in overtime -- when they take the ice at Staples Center on Saturday (7 p.m. ET, NBC).

The Rangers used their speed to seize a 2-0 lead in the first period of Game 1 on Wednesday. Then the Kings outplayed New York for the remainder of the game.

"For us to win," Vigneault said, "we're going to have to find a way to play to our strengths.

"Let me put it another way: We need to find a way to play to our strengths. They're probably the best opponent we've met. For us to win, we're going to have to find a way to play to our strengths. Speed is definitely one of them."

Right winger Justin Williams won the game in the fifth minute of overtime when his goal following a turnover completed the Kings' rally from a 2-0 first-period deficit. The comeback marked the fourth time in seven days the Kings erased a two-goal deficit. They did it three times against the Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference Final, winning two of the three.

In Game 1, the Rangers put a scare into the Kings on breakaway goals by left wingers Benoit Pouliot and Carl Hagelin 102 seconds apart in the first period. Hagelin had another breakaway in the last minute of the third period, but his chance at winning the game in regulation was thwarted by goaltender Jonathan Quick's glove.

The Rangers' speed gave the Kings difficulty.

"As a team, our speed is one of our strengths, and in order to have success, we have to play to our strengths," Hagelin said.

Kings coach Darryl Sutter likes his team's own speed.

"They're a fast team. We're a fast team," Sutter said Friday. "I mean, when we were down to San Jose, there was people in this room that said, 'Geez, you guys are a slow team.' The puck goes faster than the feet do."

Kings defenseman Robyn Regehr, who has been out for a month with a knee injury, is expected to be back in the lineup for Game 2.

"He'll probably play," Sutter said after Friday's practice.

Regehr had been cleared to play before the start of the series but sat out of Wednesday's game with an eye toward possibly returning Saturday.

"I feel ready," Regehr said. "It just comes down to a coach's decision, what they want to do with the lineup. ... I feel good."

The Rangers also want to step up their physical game in Game 2.

"We knew they were going to push, test us physically," New York defenseman Ryan McDonagh said. "I thought we matched it pretty well. I thought especially the early part of the game there, we were able to break their forecheck, get out of our zone. They got a few more opportunities in the third because of their forecheck.

"For the majority of the game, I felt we were matching them physically. We had some big hits ourselves. We understand they're going to be physical on us, and we're not going to shy away from it for sure. We've got to look for opportunities to be physical on them for our forecheck, our speed. Doesn't necessarily have to be a big hit, but utilizing our legs, getting on the right side of guys, creating turnovers is part of being physical too. We feel we can play that game as well."

Sutter was asked about the Kings' camaraderie and the uniqueness of his team.

"That's why you're still playing," he said. "It's why there's only two teams still playing. It's why the New York Rangers are still playing.

"(I've) said it over and over and over. It's not about the star factor; it's about the complete package.

"We're a very good team for good reasons. Not just come to the rink and play. There's a lot of preparation.

"The team's matured a lot in the last couple years. That's because guys came into that role. It's still a really young team. Everybody talks about it being an experienced team. They're a playoff-proven team. But there's still lots to learn."

Sutter said he is only focused on Game 2.

"Game 1 was an elimination game. Game 2 is an elimination game," he said. "When it's over, then we'll answer that question going into Game 3 and we'll answer it going into Game 4 and we'll answer it as we go forward."

Vigneault doesn't think there is an advantage -- even after a loss -- to having the two days in between games.

"It's the same for both teams," he said Friday. "I don't see an advantage in it. I mean, the schedule is what it is. At this time, they said two days in between games. So took yesterday off. Guys got away from the game a little bit.

"Today we had a good practice. We had a good meeting before. We're going to be ready tomorrow."

Vigneault was asked about whether overtimes in the playoffs take physicality away from teams or tire teams out.

"In an overtime, you know, one shot could be a win or could be a loss," he said. "I mean, I look at the last game. In my estimation, we're probably going on a three-on-two and then the puck bounced and then we get caught.

"You try and continue to play to your strengths and you hope that you're going to get one past the opposition.

"(Fatigue's) a factor obviously for both teams once you get into overtime."
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