Just two games into the 2014 Stanley Cup Final, the New York Rangers have their backs firmly against the wall.
The Los Angeles Kings scored at will in the first two games, notching a total of eight goals during that span, and have found ways to come from behind in both contests. Behind Justin Williams' outstanding start to the series (1 G, 5 P), the Kings have been able to maintain home-ice advantage.
The Rangers have played well—taking a 2-0 lead in both games—but haven't been able to finish. New York's two comeback losses spurred Comcast SportsNet's Ray Ratto to joke that the team may try a different approach in Game 3:
Coaching adjustments are important: Vigneault says Rangers plan to decline first two goals in Game 3.— Ray Ratto (@RattoCSN) June 8, 2014
With the first two games of the series now complete, the teams head to New York for the first time in the series.
Let's take a look at the next matchup.
Game 3 Information
When: Monday, June 9 at 8 p.m. ET
Where: Madison Square Garden, New York City
Watch: NBC Sports Network
Live Stream: NBC Sports Live Extra
Stanley Cup Breakdown
It's been a rough series thus far for the Rangers, but they certainly have plenty to be happy about.
Through the first two games, the Kings have not held a lead during regulation. New York has also gotten to Jonathan Quick, scoring early and often during the first two matchups with a total of six goals.
Greg Beacham of the Associated Press provides a look at just how impressive the feat is for New York:
Jonathan Quick gave up 7 goals in 6 games during the 2012 Stanley Cup finals. He's given up 6 goals in the first 100 minutes this year.— Greg Beacham (@gregbeacham) June 8, 2014
That's not exactly lifting the spirits of Rangers fans, though a home-ice win in Game 3 might just do it.
At the other end of the ice, Henrik Lundqvist came into the series teeming with confidence after a huge set against Montreal in the Eastern Conference Final. Save for a rough showing in Game 6, the Swede was brilliant with a 2.15 goals against average and a .922 save percentage.
That has been all but forgotten so far in the Stanley Cup Final—he has allowed eight goals through the two contests. Lundqvist spoke about his approach heading back to New York for Game 3, per Joe Resnick of the Associated Press:
When you play five periods, the difference is not very big between winning and losing. We came up short, and now we have to go back to New York and turn this thing around. ... You don't have a choice. You have to move on.
So far they've been taking advantage of a couple of mistakes in the first two games that we just have to minimize. But their forecheck brings that out because they put a lot of pressure on us.
For the Kings, much of the success against Lundqvist can be attributed to Williams. The overtime hero from Game 1 also has another four assists to lead all players with five points.
Mark Armstrong of WTVD, who watched Williams with the Carolina Hurricanes, notes how clutch he has been throughout his career:
Justin Williams. Man - what a career. The guy always shows up when it means the most.— Mark Armstrong (@ArmstrongABC11) June 5, 2014
With a must-win game coming up for the Rangers to avoid falling into an 0-3 deficit on home ice, expect a strong game from Lundqvist and the entire New York front line. If the Rangers expect to stage a comeback in this series, taking Game 3 outright would a huge boost for the entire team.
After surging through adversity in previous series, don't expect New York to come out flat at home—even after yet another shocking loss.
Thanks to a strong game from Lundqvist and their top lines, the Rangers should bounce back once again in the postseason.
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