Don’t count out the New York Rangers. That’s the message that they sent without even having to say it on Thursday night versus LA. They had come off a night-prior 2-1 win in Anaheim, and thus ought to have been tired. No dice. They didn’t charge out of the gate, by any means. Rather, New York played the game they play—calculated, skillful, backed up with a goalie so good he’s poetry in the nets. That it added up to a single point due to an OT loss is to some degree incidental.
The Rangers got their first goal on a wrister that flew over the shoulder of Jonathan Quick. The Kings got it back less than 20 seconds later. That one was a wrist shot also, by Dustin Brown, from the slot. These events happened just past 11 minutes of P1.
The Rangers scored again over halfway through the second period, another one that went over the ducking head of Quick. The first goal, he had to cheat toward the center of the net for fear of having a pass go over. The second one, he just seemed to be in too deep a crouch, and it sailed over his head and into the top of the net. It’s not often that he makes a mistake, if that’s what this was.
The Rangers went up 3-1 when they scored a goal which the Kings challenged for goalie interference. It was a non-starter, as the guy “interfering” was outside the crease and not creating a problem. The Rangers would try this call themselves on the LA third goal, a wrister from the slot with Toffoli in the crease. He was making himself skinny, and was semi-pushed across the front of the blue paint, and thus that call, too, was upheld as a goal, which was how the referees had called it on the ice.
This produced much consternation in both NY goalie and coach, and after the game, Lundqvist was adamant that the play should have been overturned. “As long as the goalie doesn’t get run over, it’s a good goal. That’s the way I look at this call,” he said. “I think you should be able to get it right given the chance to watch it,” he said, politely, but with frustration clearly the subtext.
“You have to be really smart with the puck the last five, six minutes. That’s been the message the last couple of years. You don’t give them much, and again, we did a pretty good job but the third one, that’s just a really tough, tough goal to accept.”
Vigneault said, “We battled real hard, and you know, I thought we did what we had to do to come out of here with two points.” But then when he was asked about the no interference call, he said, “What did Hank [Lunqvist] say?” And when told he was upset, he repeated, “But what did he say exactly?” The answer came that he said he couldn’t believe the officials could look at that a second time and still determine it to be a goal. “I agree with my goaltender. But at the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter what he thinks or I think. If we ask about it, they’re going to have a great explanation as to why it was a goal. We have to deal with it and move on.”
The commentary ranged to Kopitar, but then quickly came back to the goal. “I just commented on the one tonight, and I’m just going to leave it at that and let you guys find the explanations.” He then said, “I think everybody’s trying to get it right, and I’ll let you decide if they’re getting it right.”
As the game had gone, the Kings slowly worked their way back. The tying goal came with 4:10 to go. The Rangers came on late, their quick-strike offense creating a couple of scares, including a chance with Chris Kreider in the slot with about 40 seconds to go. He didn’t get off a shot—should have, though.
The game went to OT with the Rangers have made up some of their early shot deficit. It was Kings 36 and New York 26 at that point. The OT saw the Kings get one shot, the winner. It came from the point, by Muzzin, with Kopitar in front. He tipped it in from right in front of the net. Carter had the other assist as he had wheeled it out from the left boards. It was his third assist of the night. Kopitar ended up scoring the third and fourth goals of the evening, ending with his 24th of the year.
Attendance was 18,230, a full complement of eyeballs, and the game put the Kings up six points to the Ducks, who play Boston Friday night. The Bruins then come to LA for a Saturday contest.
If you’re inclined, listen to the Ducks Friday radio broadcast. I’m the guest between periods one and two. AM 830.