By Dan Mount, Contributing Writer
If game one is any indication for the entire series, then the New York Rangers and Los Angeles Kings put on one heck of an opening act.
Justin Williams scored four minutes, 36 seconds into overtime as Los Angeles rallied from a two-goal deficit to take the first game of the best-of-seven Stanley Cup final series, 3-2.
Kyle Clifford tallied a goal and an assist and Drew Doughty got the game-tying goal for the Kings. Jonathan Quick made 25 saves in net for the Kings.
Henrik Lundqvist made 40 saves, including some spectacular saves in the third period to send the game to overtime. Beniot Pouliot and Carl Hagelin each scored in the first period to give the Rangers a 2-0 lead in the first period before Clifford’s goal made it 2-1 after the first.
Game two will be at 7 p.m. Saturday at Staples Center in Los Angeles before heading back to New York for games three and four.
The Rangers got off to a fast start and Pouliot scored on a breakaway after stealing the puck from Doughty to give the Blueshirts the first goal of the championship series. Carl Hagelin took advantage of another defensive lapse by LA to give the Rangers a two-goal margin with a shorthanded marker. Hagelin banked the puck off of Quick and defensemen Slava Voynov.
However, digging out of an early hole is nothing new for the Kings as they turned up the pressure in the late in the first. Clifford rewarded Los Angeles with a goal to get it within one after Jeff Carter made a pass from behind the goal area. The Kings kept up the pressure and Doughty made a nifty move past Derek Dorsett and fired the shot wide of Lundqvist to get the tying goal. It was Doughty’s fourth goal in the last six games.
Los Angeles thought they’d be rewarded with their relentless forecheck, but Lundqvist made save after save to give New York a chance. He finished up with 20 stops in the period, which is the first time a team had 20 shots in a period in 16 years. However, Williams’ goal off of a Dan Girardi gave Los Angeles the all-important series-opening game.
The last time the Rangers played in the Stanley Cup opening game, it also went to overtime and the Rangers also lost by a score of 3-2 (to the Vancouver Canucks.) New York ending up winning that series in seven games, which is the team’s last Stanley Cup victory and appearance.
Game notes: The series is the first championship series between the two cities since the Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the New York Yankees in the World Series. … Hockey Hall-of-Famer and Kings great Wayne Gretzky dropped the ceremonial first puck before the game. … NBC had Kenny Albert broadcast the game as its normal announcer Mike “Doc” Emrick’s father-in-law passed away earlier in the week.
Dan Mount covers the Rangers, Islanders and Devils for NYSportScene.com. He is also an NHL columnist for TJRSports.com and a producer for Spadora on Sports. He can be found on Twitter @DanMountSports.