EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — The Kings may have had a difficult night in New York, but after losing Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final, then spending almost 5 1/2 hours in the air and landing in L.A. at 3 a.m., most of the players were ready to get back on the ice.
And so they did.
A majority of the Kings suited up for an optional skate at the team’s training facility early Thursday afternoon, perhaps wanting to forget their 2-1 loss to the Rangers the night before at Madison Square Garden. The defeat reduced their advantage to 3-1 in the best-of-seven series, but their resolve clearly was unshaken.
"No rest for the weary," Justin Williams said in the Kings dressing room. "We’re back home. I just wish the game started today."
‘Puck luck’ shifts; Kings look to finish Rangers in L.A.
Game 5 will come soon enough. The Kings and Rangers face off Friday afternoon at 5 p.m. inside Staples Center, and although the chance to clinch the Cup will feel sweeter on their home ice, they would have preferred not to give their opponents any hope.
The Rangers stayed alive, in part because the puck stopped twice on the goal line in front of their net, the second time with 1 minute 11 seconds left in regulation.
But true to their nature, the Kings weren’t lamenting their bad luck. They still have three chances to secure their second Stanley Cup in three seasons.
"Just win is what we have to do," Williams said. "I don’t care where it is, I don’t care what it is. Just win one more."
That will mean getting off to a better start, forcing the action and putting the Rangers on their heels. The Kings outshot the Rangers 15-1 in the third period and 41-19 for the game, but they couldn’t overcome a 2-0 second-period deficit.
Still, they preferred not to call their inability to win the game frustrating.
"I don’t think it’s frustration," Mike Richards said. "You’re hoping it comes, but I don’t think it’s frustrating. You have your chances, they had some chances. That’s just the way it goes sometimes."
How close were Kings to carrying home Cup in Game 4? This close
Although Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said the Kings probably played their best game of the series in the loss, there were certainly areas that could be better.
"I don’t like the way the goals were scored against us last night," coach Darryl Sutter said. "(The first) was basically right after a penalty, a penalty that we didn’t have to take after winning a faceoff. The second one was obviously losing a battle at the net.
"You’ve got to score three goals to win. I’ve said that. I know some don’t agree, but it’s true."
No matter. The Kings’ focus now is on winning one more. The sweep is gone, but hoisting the Cup on their home ice, in front of their fans, undoubtedly will feel satisfying.
"You always have to look at the end result, and where we’re sitting right now is nice," Williams said. "We’re sitting exactly where we need to be. But we need to elevate our game just as they did in Game 4 if we’re going to have a chance to win (in) five."