The New York Rangers are still alive in the 2014 Stanley Cup Final after surviving Game 4 against the Los Angeles Kings.
Once again, the Rangers jumped out to a 2-0 lead against the 2012 champions, and just like in Games 1 and 2, the Kings made that lead evaporate. But unlike those first two games, New York was able to hold on and make the lead last.
Let's break down the series outlook entering Friday's Game 5.
|5||Kings||Rangers||Fri., June 13||8 p.m.||NBC|
|6*||Rangers||Kings||Mon., June 16||8 p.m.||NBC|
|7*||Kings||Rangers||Wed., June 18||8 p.m.||NBC|
NHL.com; *if necessary
Game 5 Preview
For once in this series, the Rangers' early stuff was good enough to carry them to a victory. Only this time, it came with the entire team's back against the wall.
New York entered Game 4 with the chance of getting swept from the Stanley Cup Final—on its home ice, no less. But Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist wasn't too excited over that idea and had other ideas.
He stopped 40 of the 41 shots he faced en route to a 2-1 Rangers victory, per ESPN's SportsCenter:
Rangers are not done yet! New York staves off elimination with 2-1 win in do-or-die Game 4. Kings lead series, 3-1. pic.twitter.com/d6BtZPw3C2— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) June 12, 2014
The Rangers jumped out in front in the game's opening frame, taking a 1-0 lead into the first intermission. Early in the second they added another, but the Kings answered right back to make it a one-goal game entering the third.
In the final frame, things got this close before Lundqvist shut the door for good, per Sports Illustrated:
The Kings once again showed their resiliency playing from behind, but for the first time all series it didn't end with Los Angeles mounting the comeback.
Instead, the series shifts back to the west coast for Game 5 as the Kings look to wrap things up on their home ice, per the Kings' official Twitter:
There will be a game 5. In front of the home crowd. Friday night at @STAPLESCenter.— LA Kings (@LAKings) June 12, 2014
It's hard to say that the Kings aren't still very much in control of the series. A 3-0 series lead takes much more than a single game to erase, and Los Angeles knows that better than anyone after its first-round comeback over the Sharks.
Still, Game 5 has the potential to make things very interesting. The Kings will be desperate to put the finishing touches on their second Stanley Cup title in three years.
If they fail to do so, though, look out. The Rangers found all sorts of confidence in their Game 4 win, and should they be able to finally steal one in LA, then New York will enter Game 6 on its home ice ready to force a decisive Game 7.
Will the Kings wrap things up in Game 5?
Despite the win, the Rangers sat back a little too much for their liking in an elimination game Wednesday and relied too much on Lundqvist to bail them out. In many instances, it nearly resulted in the Kings tying things up.
If New York plays that way down the stretch with another lead at the Staples Center, it's going to end up the same way Games 1 and 2 did. But if the Rangers can get on top of the scoreline early and keep their foot on the gas, they'll be in position to send the series back to New York for Game 6.
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