Prospal scores 2, including 200th, in Rangers win
Both teams were in full agreement: the Los Angeles Kings clearly outplayed the New York Rangers.
The scoreboard said otherwise at the end of a matchup between the NHL's hottest clubs.
Vinny Prospal scored two goals — including his 200th in the NHL — during first-period power plays and the Rangers stretched their winning streak to six games with a 4-2 victory Wednesday night.
"You just find a way to win when you're not on — and we were not on," Rangers coach John Tortorella said. "We were behind in every facet of the game but we still found a way to win.
"That's a good sign."
Prospal added an assist on Marian Gaborik's sixth of the season that made it 4-2 at 4:22 of the third - on the Rangers' only shot in the period. Gaborik has 10 points and at least one in all seven games.
"Third period is crunch time," Tortorella said. "He is that guy that you need to make a big play."
The Rangers swept a three-game homestand in four days and improved to 6-0 since a season-opening loss at Pittsburgh, despite Tortorella's admission that his club looked tired.
Former Kings forward Brian Boyle scored a second-period goal, and Henrik Lundqvist stopped 34 shots for his fifth win in six games. It is New York's longest winning streak since another six-game run in the 2005-06 season.
"We have a lot of confidence right now," Lundqvist said. "It's not easy to play the third game at home in a row ... you get a little comfortable."
Ryan Smyth and Michal Handzus scored for Los Angeles, which had won four in a row after losing on opening night to Phoenix. Erik Ersberg, making his first start of the season in relief of No. 1 goalie Jon Quick, stopped 17 shots.
"Going into the third, we felt this game was ours to have," Kings captain Dustin Brown said. "We realize this is a good game for us and we are all comfortable with everything that happened."
Smyth has been quite an addition to the Kings' top line. He has five goals and nine points in six games, reaching the score sheet in each contest. Los Angeles, however, dropped to 2-1 on its six-game road trip that began with wins at St. Louis and the New York Islanders.
Prospal gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead 3:11 in when he tipped in defenseman Michael Del Zotto's shot for his milestone goal in his 15th NHL season.
Gaborik quickly retrieved the puck and handed it to Prospal.
"It's a mark, but there are a lot of other players who have scored a lot more goals than me," Prospal said.
Smyth answered 1:10 later with a similar deflection in front, but Prospal struck again for goal No. 201 — his third of the season — during New York's 5-on-3 power play at 13:03.
Prospal got help from video replay that showed that he chipped the puck in from behind the net before the referee's whistle blew.
"I thought it was an unfortunate break for us. In my understanding of it, it is not a reviewable situation," Kings coach Terry Murray said.
Boyle, a Kings first-round draft pick in 2003, scored his first goal with the Rangers 2:17 into the second when his drive clanged hard off the left post and bounced in off Ersberg's leg to make it 3-1.
"It would have been a great start if I stopped the shots," Ersberg said. "It was not the first game I was looking for. I think we should have had this game."
The Kings again climbed within a goal when Handzus deflected in Jack Johnson's long shot at 7:18 of the second. As Toronto did in a loss to New York on Monday, Los Angeles carried play in the middle period, but not enough to get even.
Los Angeles held a 14-11 shots edge in the second and 10-1 in the third.
Gaborik sealed the Rangers' latest win when he calmly skated into the Los Angeles zone, while corralling a pass from Prospal that was behind him, and unleashing a perfect wrist shot from the left circle.
"He just beat me fair and square," Ersberg said. "It was a good shot, but if we want to win this game I have to stop that."
NOTES: Kings C Anze Kopitar had his point streak snapped at five games. He was originally credited with an assist on Smyth's goal but it was changed. ... Los Angeles hasn't won five straight since Feb. 11-March 7, 2006. The Kings hadn't lost at Madison Square Garden since Nov. 28, 2000. ... Injured Rangers enforcer Donald Brashear was replaced in the lineup by Aaron Voros. ... New York is 12-1 in its last 13 home games, dating to last season.