Jun 12, 2014, 12:25 AM EDT
NEW YORK — Derek Stepan didn’t want anyone to “fool” themselves. Yes, the New York Rangers beat the Los Angeles Kings. Yes, they finally got some puck luck. And yes, they’re still alive in the Stanley Cup Final. But if not for Henrik Lundqvist, this thing would be over. The Kings would be champs for the second time in three years, and they’d have celebrated on the ice at Madison Square Garden.
“Hank stood on his head,” said Stepan. “He made some big saves at big times for us. Those are the big plays we need at certain moments to keep the momentum or shift the momentum. Hank stood tall and he’s a big part of why we’re going back to L.A.”
Mats Zuccarello took it one step further: “We probably play our worst game of the series and we win.”
Added Dan Girardi: “It was pretty self-explanatory out there. He was the King tonight for us, making huge saves when he had to.”
As for the man himself?
“Well, I felt good tonight,” Lundqvist said. “I must say, I felt pretty good in every game. It’s just tonight, we had the bounces. We talked about it the first couple games where, you know, especially against this team, you need that little extra puck luck. They play a lot around the net, a lot of deflections, screens. Sometimes it’s going to hit you and sometimes it’s not. You have to keep telling yourself you’re doing the right things. So that’s what I did.”
Lundqvist made 40 saves on the night, including 15 in the third period when his teammates managed just one on the other guy. Only Kings captain Dustin Brown could beat “the King” in Game 4, on a breakaway (thanks to Girardi’s broken stick) in the second period that made it 2-1 for the home side.
That’s right — if not for their star goalie, the Rangers, in all likelihood, would’ve blown their third 2-0 lead of the series.
“Yeah, I’m not going to lie. The first thought was, ‘Here we go again,'” said Lundqvist. “I guess the important thing was to respond the right way. They had a couple chances right after to make saves right away.”
“He had to make some huge saves in the second and the third,” said coach Alain Vigneault. “He got and we got a few bounces. You need those. Maybe the luck is changing a little bit. … We get another chance to play. We’re going to be ready for it.”
The challenge, obviously, remains immense. The Rangers still need to win three more — two on the road — without a loss. And the Kings are still the Kings. They’ve been through this before. Nobody’s expecting them to panic.
“We’re going back home, that’s where we won it last time,” said Drew Doughty. “Hopefully we can do the same thing again.”
And they’ll be favored to do just that on Friday at Staples Center. But with Lundqvist, and a little luck, there’s that sliver of hope for the Blueshirts.
“He just competes,” said Stepan. “That’s one thing I’ve learned about Hank, that he never seems to stop competing. He loves to win and he hates to lose.”
“We have to believe,” said Rick Nash. “You got to have faith and you have to believe in your system and in our process. It’s so cliché, but we just have to play it game by game and just worry about another win.”
Apr 2, 2015, 12:16 AM EDT
Looked like a sure goal.
Apr 1, 2015, 11:45 PM EDT
That’s bad defending.
Apr 1, 2015, 11:20 PM EDT
Pittsburgh lost to Philadelphia on Wednesday.
Apr 1, 2015, 10:50 PM EDT
Started off well for Pittsburgh, but got worse from there.
Apr 1, 2015, 10:12 PM EDT
Both desperately need wins to stay alive in playoff race.
Apr 1, 2015, 9:54 PM EDT
Apr 1, 2015, 9:23 PM EDT
It’s been a while.
Apr 1, 2015, 8:48 PM EDT
He’s having a “down year,” apparently.
Apr 1, 2015, 8:18 PM EDT
Red Wings forward reflects on Tuesday’s scary skate cut incident.
Apr 1, 2015, 7:49 PM EDT
Just 12 forwards, and five defensemen.
Apr 1, 2015, 7:39 PM EDT
“It was vicious, and it deserves to be penalized.”
Apr 1, 2015, 7:15 PM EDT
Kings defenseman also suffered a ruptured Achilles.
Apr 1, 2015, 6:38 PM EDT
Catch the game on NBCSN, or with NBCSports.com’s Live Extra.
Apr 1, 2015, 6:13 PM EDT
He’ll play on a line with Carl Hagelin and Kevin Hayes.
Apr 1, 2015, 5:26 PM EDT
Has been playing in Finland this season.
Apr 1, 2015, 4:48 PM EDT
Click for all the odds.
Apr 1, 2015, 4:24 PM EDT
Certainly better than they were in February.
Apr 1, 2015, 3:27 PM EDT
Did you know only six players in the entire NHL have more points than Hudler?
Apr 1, 2015, 3:00 PM EDT
Wouldn’t be great news for the Kings.
Apr 1, 2015, 2:27 PM EDT
“I think the timetable’s still at the 12-week mark.”
- Video: Flyers trounce slumping Penguins on Rivalry Night 17
- Video: Crosby scores goal No. 300 for his NHL career 5
- (Video) McKenzie: ‘Best guess is anywhere from 3-5 games’ for Byfuglien suspension 13
- Byfuglien to have phone hearing for Miller cross-check 44
- Patrick Kane is practicing today 30
- NHL on NBCSN: Flyers won’t fool with Penguins on Rivalry Night 35
- ‘Could’ve broken his neck,’ says Vigneault of Byfuglien cross check on Miller 66
- Video: Byfuglien gets away with ugly cross check, penalized late in Jets loss to Rangers 36
- Video: Lucic scores late winner, Bruins deal crushing blow to Panthers playoff hopes 11
- Video: Ovi becomes sixth player in history to record six 50-goal seasons 18
- ‘Could’ve broken his neck,’ says Vigneault of Byfuglien cross check on Miller (66)
- Minnesota leapfrogs Chicago in the Central Division (65)
- Coyotes ‘win’ against Sabres in OT (58)
- Sabres GM Tim Murray: ‘I think too much about’ McDavid (55)
- Report: Warrant issued for Deveaux’s arrest following Swedish league attack (49)