NEW YORK — On the two-year anniversary of their 2012 Stanley Cup win, the Los Angeles Kings failed to repeat the feat.
Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden the Kings were without one of their signature comebacks as they fell 2-1 to the New York Rangers in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final. The Kings lead the series 3-1 and will play Game 5 Friday at Staples Center.
Everything set up as imperfectly perfect as it had in the games before, starting with a two-goal lead by the Rangers. But there was two things standing in the Kings’ way: Henrik Lundqvist and a little pile of snow.
The stories of the goalies couldn’t be more starkly contrasted. Quick, younger and quieter guy from nearby Milford, Conn., already with a Cup win and a Conn Smythe to go along with it. The face of his team in many ways but prefers to stay out of the spotlight. He lives dangerously, up at the front of the crease with cat-like instincts.
‘Puck luck’ shifts; Kings look to finish Rangers in L.A. READ MORE
His veteran counterpart in blue, Lundqvist, is playing in his first Stanley Cup after a decorated career. The Swede has no problem reciting long soliloquies with the media during post game interviews, providing thoughtful analysis and his honest emotions.
Lundqvist’s style of play is also far different from that of Quick. For as far out of the net as Quick plays, Lundqvist is that deep in his own. It was that movement deep in his net that created the pile of ice chips that stopped the puck on its own in the waning minutes of Game 4, preventing the Kings from tying a third game and possibly preventing them from winning the entire series.
"It’s probably the product of moving a lot. I stay deep in the net, so there’s a lot of snow there," he said. "I thought I had it because I felt the puck, felt like I got a good piece of it on that deflection. I was yelling at the ref to blow the whistle, then I realized it was behind me for a couple seconds.
I actually apologized. But he was cool about it."
King Henrik – as polite as he was lucky.
"Don’t fool yourself either, Hank stood on his head," said Rangers center Derek Stepan. "He made some big saves at big times for us. Those are the big plays that 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."
But the Kings didn’t think that Lundqvist looked completely unbeatable. They have beat him three times already in the postseason, after all, and all luck aside, that loose change left in the crease isn’t likely to be lost in Game 5 with the Stanley Cup on the line.
"I think we can do a better job getting to him," Kopitar said. "I think a couple of times where we didn’t make it tough on him. The pucks were sitting there. But the pucks he’s gonna see, he’s gonna stop. That’s just how it is."