LOS ANGELES – When the New York Rangers lost Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Los Angeles Kings, they drew some positives form the defeat. Mistakes to correct. Favorable matchups they could exploit in the next game.
Then the Rangers lost Game 2, 5-4 in double overtime, and the tone changed. No silver linings. No constructive lessons. Just frustration over not having won a game at Staples Center despite getting three sudden-death periods to do so.
“I don’t give a [crap] about underdogs,” said forward Brian Boyle, when asked if the Rangers can feel good that they put up a fight against the favored Kings.
“That’s ridiculous. Give me a break. We’re not. We’re here, too. We’re a good team. And we can’t take any solace (in two close games) because we lost. We came here to win games. It doesn’t matter how the hell we do it, we have to win the game. If you don’t win the game you didn’t do what you came to do and that’s the worst feeling there is.”
They had their chances to win the wild 5-4 Game 2 on Saturday night. On three separate occasions, the Rangers established two-goal leads, but the Kings rallied each time. They peppered Jonathan Quick with 36 shots, and had some golden chances in overtime.
After the game, players like Chris Kreider could only lament about having failed to convert those opportunities.
"We blew another two-goal lead. We lost in overtime. I had two Grade-A opportunities and didn't finish so I have to execute better. I think that's my takeaway, ultimately,” he said.
Or as coach Alain Vigneault said, when asked why the Rangers lost Game 2: “They scored one more goal than we did.”
Before the game, Vigneault said his team needed to bring its ‘A’ game across the board to defeat the Kings. Some Rangers did: Mats Zuccarello had an exceptional night, and the line of Chris Kreider, Derek Stepan and Rick Nash generated chances. But Brad Richards was a humbling minus-3 with three giveaways, as was Marty St. Louis despite a power-play goal. Ryan McDonagh scored a goal and assisted on another, but had two defensive gaffes that led to Kings goals.
Much of the Rangers' frustration manifested in the words of Henrik Lundqvist, who faced 44 shots and allowed five goals. One of them was a controversial tally from Dwight King of Los Angeles, as the puck deflected off of him as he was shoved into Lundqvist by defenseman Ryan McDonagh – or so the explanation went.
“I'm extremely disappointed on that call or non-call. They got to be consistent with that rule,” said Lundqvist. “After that, it's a different game. I don't expect a penalty on the play but they need to blow the whistle. A goalie can't move when you have a guy like that on top of you. It’s such an important play of that game. I don't buy that explanation.”
The Rangers goalie said his team has to try and move on after getting the better of play in Game 2 and still leaving down 0-2 to the Kings.
"You have to move on, it's a game. We all battled, I battled, and we played five periods. Obviously, the difference is not very big. Even the last game the difference is not big. You just have to stick with it and believe in each other and what we're doing. It's good. It's definitely good enough; it's just one bounce here or there and it's a different score here,” he said.
“We came up short in two games. Now we have to go back to New York and turn this around."