The Los Angeles Kings fought back from a two-goal deficit on home ice to take down the New York Rangers in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final. Now they will try to take a firm hold on the series while the Rangers attempt to level it before heading home.
Justin Williams was the hero in the opener. He scored the game-winning goal less than five minutes into overtime. Jonathan Quick also deserves a lot of credit for making some key stops after seeing two shots get past him in a two-minute span late in the first period.
The Rangers can take some positives from the opener as well. But at this stage of the season, the only thing that matters is wins and losses. So let's check out all of the key information for Game 2, followed by a preview and prediction.
Which team will win Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final?
Game 2 Info
Where: Staples Center in Los Angeles
When: Saturday, June 7 at 7 p.m. ET
Live Stream: NBC Sports Live Extra
Odds: Kings -150, Rangers +135 (via Odds Shark)
Game 1 was even through two periods, both in terms of score and the level of play from both sides. The Kings really started to take control in the third period, though. They outshot the Rangers 20-3, and only the great play of Henrik Lundqvist forced overtime.
A fortunate bounce helped lead to Williams' winner, but that doesn't change the fact that the better team on Wednesday night got the win. The Rangers must find a way to win those individual battles moving forward or they are going to spend a lot of time pinned in their own end.
The fact that it was Williams who scored in overtime wasn't a surprise. He's made a habit of rising to the occasion in big moments during his time in Los Angeles. As Katie Strang of ESPN noted, his play drew praise from teammate Drew Doughty:
Drew Doughty on Justin Williams: "He's the most underrated player on our team by a mile."— Katie Strang (@KatieStrangESPN) June 5, 2014
Another player who had a strong game for the Kings, despite it not showing up on the score sheet, was Anze Kopitar. He finished the game without a point, but it felt like every time he was on the ice the Kings were controlling play.
Numbers from Extra Skater back up the eye test:
Kopitar was not on the ice for a single Rangers shot at 5v5. 9 Kings shots though.— Extra Skater (@ExtraSkater) June 5, 2014
Ultimately, there were too many shifts after the opening period where the Rangers weren't able to create any pressure, especially against the Kopitar line. That was the most concerning takeaway from Game 1.
Since Los Angeles gets the last change at home, Darryl Sutter is going to look for as many chances as possible to get a favorable matchup for his top line. Whichever Rangers are on the ice in those moments must do a better job of preventing it from being one-way hockey.
On the flip side, New York can come out of the game thinking it didn't play anywhere near its best and still only lost 3-2 in overtime on the road. That's the kind of difference Lundqvist can make when he's in the zone.
Furthermore, the two goals the Rangers scored came from secondary scorers in Carl Hagelin and Benoit Pouliot. They have to figure Rick Nash, Martin St. Louis, Chris Kreider and Brad Richards are going to make more of an impact in the remaining games. Otherwise it will be a pretty quick series.
So there are definitely ways for the coaching staff to spin the loss into a positive. But there's work to do, because Los Angeles didn't play its game, either.
Alain Vigneault's group needs to start winning more shifts. They got off to a slow start in the third, and things just snowballed as the period went on. Again, if not for Lundqvist, they probably would have lost in regulation by two or three goals.
A more narrow focus on winning those one-on-one battles for the puck is essential if they are going to beat a battle-tested Kings side.
Ultimately, expect a low-scoring Game 2 with the goalies once again taking center stage. Until the Rangers show they can win playing Los Angeles' more physical style, it's hard to pick them on the road. Look for the Kings to grab a 2-0 series lead.
Prediction: Kings 2, Rangers 1