The Los Angeles Kings were really close to winning the Stanley Cup on Wednesday. How close? This close.
Here’s the second image in video form. With just over a minute left in the third period, the Kings were inches away from sending the game into overtime.
But credit the New York Rangers, who, facing elimination and a championship sweep, responded with a thrilling 2-1 victory to keep their season alive.
With that in mind, here’s all the essential information for Game 5.
Series: 3-1 Kings
When: Friday, June 13, at 8 p.m. ET
Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
Live Stream: NBC Live Extra
|Los Angeles Kings||10/17||-170|
|New York Rangers||3/2||+150|
Henrik Lundqvist was brilliant in goal for New York. After a shaky start to the series, he was on lockdown on Wednesday, saving 40 of 41 shots, including 15 in the third period alone. That’s pretty good, says ESPN Stats & Info.
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
Lundqvist needed a terrific performance to keep the season alive. Despite the pressure, he delivered, per the Associated Press, via Sports Illustrated: “When everything is on the line, you just have to challenge yourself the right way. You have to be focused. One mistake and the season is over. You're definitely aware of that."
He wasn’t about to let the Kings celebrate in New York.
"We didn't want the Cup coming out on our home ice tonight. Just the thought of that makes me sick." -Lundqvist pic.twitter.com/jZORWQnYLO— NHL (@NHL) June 12, 2014
The Rangers, who haven’t lost a home game when facing elimination since 2008, jumped out to a 2-0 lead for the third time in four games. After losing the first two in overtime in Los Angeles, they finally held on for the win on Wednesday as they attempted to come back from a 3-0 series deficit.
Unfortunately for the Kings, goalie Jonathan Quick couldn’t match his Game 3 effort. During that game, Quick saved all 32 shots that came his way to preserve just his second shutout of the postseason and the first since April 26 against the San Jose Sharks.
On Wednesday, however, Quick made 17 saves but allowed two goals on just 19 shots, resulting in an 89 percent save percentage. That isn’t a great return, especially when you consider Lundqvist’s Game 4 save percentage exceeded 97 percent. The Kings have the offense to make up for a mediocre performance in goal, but Quick will have to be better going forward to eliminate the Rangers.
Los Angeles will also need to see improved play from Justin Williams and Jeff Carter. Williams and Carter have combined to score 18 goals this postseason, but they missed all eight of their shots on goal in Game 4. The team relies on and needs their production, as both players have totaled 24 points in the 2014 playoffs.
Heading into Game 5, the Kings have yet to feel the pressure. They are still up 3-1 and are going home to Los Angeles. However, the Kings know as well as anyone that no series lead is safe. In April’s quarterfinals, Los Angeles rallied from three games down against the Sharks to win the series.
Who will win Game 5?
Kings forward Anze Kopitar knows the dangers of letting a team hang around. Per Sports Illustrated: "We wanted to close it out tonight and we weren't able to do it. Now we have a desperate team coming into our building."
In a seven-game series, teams can’t afford to give away any games. Newfound momentum and confidence are dangerous ingredients for a team coming off a victory. The Kings would be wise to wrap up the series on Friday, otherwise the Rangers will return to New York for Game 6 really believing the Stanley Cup is within reach.
The Rangers needed Lundqvist at his best to win Game 4, and he was, even if a little luck was on his side. He will be sharp again Friday night, but not quite as good as he was in his last outing. It took three tries, but New York finally held a 2-0 lead on Wednesday, which will give them added confidence in Los Angeles, where they've outplayed the Kings for much of the first two games. The Rangers will keep their season alive in Game 5 and improve to 1-2 in overtime games this series.
Final Score: Rangers 3, Kings 2 (OT)
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