Kings vs Rangers: Game 1
The second most watched Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final ever on NBC proved to be one of the most exciting games of the playoffs, let alone the season. With action at both ends, big saves, a crazy final minute, and a clutch goal in the end, this game proved to be what any hockey fan would love to watch.
Both teams came out very quickly to start the game, Los Angeles had 14 shots in the first period, the Rangers had 13. It took 13:21, but finally, someone broke through, and it was the ever so oddly dubbed “Captain Taco” Benoit Pouliot, who poked the puck past and split up d-men Drew Doughty and Jake Muzzin, was alone by the blue line, and ripped a far-side shot over the blocker shoulder of Jonathan Quick. Just 1:42 later, down a man, the Blueshirts would strike again, Carl Hagelin using a burst of speed to get past Slava Voynov, putting a puck into the pads of Quick, and the rebound deflected off of Voynov’s skate and into the net.
It seemed momentum shifted 2:30 later for New York, when Derek Stepan couldn’t clear the defensive zone, and let Kyle Clifford deflect a bad angle goal line shot over the glove side on Henrik Lundqvist. The Rangers wouldn’t get that momentum back the rest of the night.
A quarter of the way through the second period, Drew Doughty made his case for the Conn Smyth Trophy, taking a backhand feed from Justin Williams, putting it through his legs, past Derek Dorsett, smoothly back to his forehand, stops up, holds to get Lundqvist down, and launches it in between the stick side arm and body of the Rangers netminder.
The Kings got 20 shots in the third period alone, firing puck after puck into Henrik Lundqvist. The game almost ended in the last minute of regulation, Carl Hagelin getting a few steps in front of Drew Doughty at the red line, breaking in on Quick, and rifling a shot off of the glove of the Kings goaltender, which deflected wide. The Kings came right back, Jeff Carter wrapping the puck around the net, threw it into the sliding skates of Rick Nash, which rang off of the post and into the blue paint, where luckily, Lundqvist could get a grip on it.
Not even five minutes into overtime, Dan Girardi fanned on the opportunity to clear a puck, it slid over to Mike Richards, who wired a pass to Justin Williams, who was completely uncovered in the slot, and he let a shot fly over the stick shoulder, top shelf to send the Staples Center into a frenzy.
For Los Angeles, this game gives them a lot of momentum for the series, the 14th multi-goal comeback in the playoffs, and a thrilling OT winner which captivated the entire city, the crowd at the Dodgers game standing and cheering when they saw the final score put up on the scoreboard. This loss is a tough one for New York to swallow considering they blew a two goal lead, but they can rectify this loss and keep their chances alive at Madison Square Garden by shaking their demons and brushing this game off. Game 2 is 7:00 on Saturday, let’s see whether the Kings remain royalty in LA or whether the Rangers can overcome Game 1 and keep their Cup hopes alive.