NEW YORK — The New York Rangers avoided a four-game sweep in the Stanley Cup finals, knocking off the Los Angeles Kings 2-1 in Game 4 on Wednesday at Madison Square Garden.
Wingers Martin St. Louis and Benoit Pouliot scored for the Rangers. The Kings received a goal from left winger Dustin Brown.
Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist recorded 40 saves in the game and was brilliant in the third period when the Kings outshot New York 15-1 while pressing for the equalizer. Kings goalie Jonathan Quick made 17 saves in the loss.
Pouliot opened the scoring with his fifth goal of the playoffs off a deflection at waist level at 7:25 of the first period for a 1-0 Rangers lead, just as Kings defenseman Willie Mitchell was leaving the box after serving a high sticking penalty. Rangers defenseman John Moore blasted a rising shot from the right point that Pouliot got a piece of while stationed in the high slot.
The Kings appeared to have tied the score on the power play at 11:50 of the first period, but New York defenseman Anton Stralman managed to get his stick on a loose puck before it crossed the line, tucking it under Lundqvist’s pads after a scramble in front.
New York went up by two goals for the fifth time in the series when St. Louis poked in a rebound of center Chris Kreider’s snap shot, giving the Rangers a cushion at 6:27 of the second period. The goal was St. Louis’ team-leading eighth goal of the playoffs and the 41st of his postseason career.
The Kings sliced the Rangers lead in half at 8:47 of the second period. New York defenseman Dan Girardi coughed up the puck just inside his own blueline after his stick failed him and Brown scooped it up. The Kings captain broke in alone on Lundqvist and deked several times before depositing his sixth goal of the playoffs into the net.
Lundqvist ‘s most impressive save of the first two periods was against Kings center Jeff Carter near the end of the second period. Carter burst past Girardi, who is in the midst of a forgettable series, and crashed in on Lundqvist before cutting across the crease in an attempt to tuck the puck around the goaltender’s pads. But Lundqvist came up big, getting his toe to the far post to make the pad save.
With 1:11 to play in the third, the Kings appeared to have tied the game, but the puck stopped just short of the goal line off a scramble in front of Lundqvist and Rangers center Derek Stepan pushed the puck under his goaltender’s pads without closing his hand on the puck, which would have resulted in a penalty shot.
Prior to that, the Kings’ best scoring chance in the final period occurred with 10:05 left, but Lundqvist thwarted center Tyler Toffoli’s point-blank wrist shot from 12 feet away.
The Kings lead the best-of-seven series, 3-1. Game 5 is Friday at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
NOTES: The Kings lead the NHL with eight road victories this postseason. In 2012, they tied a Stanley Cup playoff record with 10 road wins, including two in the finals at New Jersey. … Los Angeles leads the NHL with 85 goals this postseason after ranking 26th during the regular season. … Eleven different players accounted for the Kings’ 12 goals in the Stanley Cup finals. Six different players recorded the Rangers’ eight goals. … Teams leading the Stanley Cup finals 3-0 have won the series 25-of-26 times (96.2 percent) since the NHL implemented the best-of-seven format in 1939. The only club to overcome a 3-0 series deficit was the 1942 Maple Leafs against the Detroit Red Wings. … Los Angeles is looking for its second Stanley Cup in three seasons. The Kings claimed their first Cup in 2012 over the New Jersey Devils. … Game 4 of the finals marked the 92nd game of the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs, tying a single-year NHL postseason record established in 1991.