The New York Rangers received a stay of execution Wednesday, taking Game 4 of the 2014 Stanley Cup Final against the Los Angeles Kings by a score of 2-1.
Riding the back of Henrik Lundqvist's imperious performance between the pipes, they prolonged the series for at least one more contest. Some may view the Los Angeles Kings' 3-1 series lead as unassailable, but the Kings themselves overcame a 3-0 deficit in the first round against the San Jose Sharks.
It can be done.
As cliche as it might sound, the Rangers need to take the series one game at a time.
Los Angeles has two chances to close out the Stanley Cup Final at home: Game 5 will be played Friday and then a decisive Game 7 would follow Monday, if it comes to that. Both games are slated to start at 8 p.m. ET.
For now, we'll focus on Game 5 and two lingering questions that will be answered in two days' time.
When: Friday, June 13 at 8 p.m. ET
Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles
Live Stream: NBC Sports Live Extra
Is New York's Reliance on Henrik Lundqvist Sustainable?
"King Henrik" took back his throne in Game 4, making 40 saves in the win. According to ESPN Stats and Info, it was the third-highest number of saves made in a Stanley Cup Final elimination game in the last 40 years (h/t Twitter user @EliasSports):
Henrik Lundqvist's 40 saves are the 3rd most by a goalie in a Cup Final win when facing elimination in last 40 years (h/t @EliasSports)— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 12, 2014
This stat really illustrates how much the Rangers needed Lundqvist on Wednesday night, courtesy of NJ.com's A.J. Perez:
The Kings outshot the the Rangers 26-3 after Dustin Brown's goal in the 2nd period. Lundqvist's back must be hurting.— A.J. Perez (@ajperezsports) June 12, 2014
"I think we sat back a little too much in the third period," Rangers forward Derek Stepan told The Associated Press (h/t ESPN.com). "But we didn't blow the lead this time."
One can understand why New York would feel comfortable leaving a lot on Lundqvist's plate. He's been fantastic throughout the postseason, and at his best he's one of the league's elite goaltenders. Put him together with the Rangers' deep defense, and they've got a killer combination.
But 19 shots? That's all they could muster?
Make no mistake about it: The Rangers rode their luck a lot in Game 4. They were within millimeters of a Tanner Pearson shot crossing the line and tying the game in the third period.
Lundqvist also pulled a rabbit out of the hat in the second period to deny Jeff Carter when blueliner Dan Girardi completely fell asleep at the wheel.
The 32-year-old can help carry the Rangers, but sooner or later he's going to need some help along the way.
Will "That '70s Line" Show Up?
It turns out that two guys in their early 20s might be a little nervous in the Stanley Cup Final.
Pearson and Tyler Toffoli have each failed to record a point in this series. Neither has played poorly, but their production is certainly down from where it was in the earlier rounds.
Perhaps they're a bit overwhelmed by the stage. Toffoli acknowledged that getting sleep during the final is a tough proposition.
Who wins Game 5?
"I fell asleep at 9 o'clock and I thought I was going to have the best sleep of my life," he said heading into Game 4, per Sean Leahy of Yahoo Sports' Puck Daddy. "Then I woke up at 12 and couldn't fall back asleep for another 4-5 hours."
The struggles extend to the whole of "That '70s Line" to a certain extent, as Jeff Carter has notched just a goal and assist through the first four games. He came very close to scoring on a breakaway chance in the second period of Game 4—an inch or two the right way and this is a different story.
Part of what has made the Kings so deadly offensively is that they can call upon their second line of Toffoli, Carter and Pearson to act as a first line due to how well the trio is playing.
Coming into the series, the Rangers were lauded for the depth of their defensive strength, and so far that depth has done well to neutralize "That '70s Line."