Stanley Cup Finals Game Four: Kings 1 – Rangers 2
The last team to sweep the Stanley Cup Finals was the 1998 Red Wings, when they did it against the Washington Capitals. That record was upheld on Wednesday night as the New York Rangers got a 2-1 win to stave off elimination and get their first win of the series against the Los Angeles Kings.
Not only did the Rangers stop the Kings from winning the Stanley Cup on their home ice, but they also set an NHL record as they won their eighth straight home playoff game when facing elimination. If the Kings hope to extend that streak to nine games, they’ll need to get a win in LA on Friday night.
There is no question who the hero was on Wednesday. Henrik Ludnqvist hasn’t looked like himself at certain points in the Stanley Cup Finals. But on Wednesday he was in top form, having 40 saves on 41 shots, which is good enough for a .976 save percentage.
The Rangers were just 1-14 on the power play entering Game Three. And while that number extended to 1-15 after the first call of the game against the Kings, the Rangers did use the extra man advantage to their benefit. As Los Angeles was playing shorthanded, the Rangers had the puck at the Kings blue line. Just as the penalty expired, Derick Brassard shot the puck on goal, which was deflected in by Benoit Poulitot. The goal was the first in 120 minutes of play for New York.
Just moments later, the Kings would have a power play of their own and Alec Martinez threw a shot on net. The puck trickled behind Lundqvist, but it stopped on the goal line and was cleared out by the Rangers Anton Stralman. The Rangers haven’t had many things go their way this series, but this was the first of many to go in their favor on the evening.
The second goal for the Rangers came at the 13:33 of the second period as Martin St. Louis dropped it off for Derrick Stepan just inside the blue line. After a shot from Stepan was stopped, St. Louis picked up the rebound and put it home. Another lucky break for the Rangers, but they certainly didn’t make things easy on themselves throughout the remainder of the contest.
Just two minutes later, the Rangers were again on the attack but Dan Girardi lost the puck in the Kings’ zone. Dustin Brown took it the other way on a breakaway for the Kings and would score the first game of the evening for LA.
Just a few seconds later Girardi would give up the puck again and Jeff Carter would get a breakaway for the Kings, but this time Lundqvist was able to stop him.
The Kings had multiple chances in the final 90 seconds, including another shot from Martinez that, just like in the first period, trickled behind Lundqvist before stopping short on the goal line. Rangers fans had plenty to be thankful for on Wednesday night, especially when the final buzzer rang without the Kings scoring another goal.
The Kings still have a stranglehold on this series with 1/12 odds and a 3-1 series lead. However, there is now hope for the Rangers, who sit at 15/2, especially if they can get it back to New York for Game Six. You can check back with sportspicks.com handicappers before the puck drops on Friday, as well as any future games if the Rangers are able to extend the series.