Jun 12 2014, 7:48pm CDT | by Poch de la Rosa
The New York Rangers are hoping to stay alive in Game 5 of the 2014 Stanley Cup Finals against the Los Angeles Kings.
ESPN's Johnette Howard wrote on June 12 that the Rangers may be better off playing from behind rather than being ahead:
"Maybe at this point, the New York Rangers should just face it: Desperation suits them more than being front-runners. That has been the thread running through their wholly unpredicted season run to this point, through their cliffhanger, seven-game opening series against (the) Philadelphia (Flyers), their Martin St. Louis-inspired comeback from a 1-3 hole against (the) Pittsburgh (Penguins), and their dismissal of (the) Montreal (Canadiens).
"Then they couldn't beat this Los Angeles Kings team that swarmed into Madison Square Garden threatening to sweep them out of the Stanley Cup Finals unit until they've been shoved to the edge of the plank Wednesday night.
"'I've never been so happy to have a long flight and a time change,' Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi joked after the Rangers hung on for a thrilling, occasionally frantic 2-1 win that featured some spectacular work by goaltender Henrik Lundvist and some even more spectacular good luck when the puck got by him three times, yet twice stopped dead in its tracks without crossing the red line.
"'I've been in the game a long time,' Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said with (a) weary look after (the) Rangers were outshot 41-19 and still won the game. 'I know sometimes the hockey gods are there.
"'They were there tonight.'"
Lundqvist's spectacular 40-save effort in Game 4 on Wednesday gave the Rangers a new lease on life, per Howard's colleague at ESPN, Katie Strang:
"Henrik Lundqvist arrived at his own postgame news conference fashionably late. With defenseman Anton Stralman fielding questions at the dais, originally intended for both of them, Lundqvist finally arrived to meet the media through a side door, though he stood off to the side for a few moments and patiently waited for his teammates to finish.
"That was the only portion of Wednesday night in which Lundqvist was waiting in the wings.
"Every other moment, the 32-year-old netminder was center stage.
"Lundqvist delivered a sublime 40-save performance in the New York Rangers' 2-1 win against the Los Angeles Kings, staving off a Stanley Cup Finals sweep on home ice in Game 4 at Madison Square Garden.
"Anything short of what was an absolutely stunning effort would have ended with a loss. The Rangers' season would have been over. They would have gone down as the first team to be swept in the finals since 1998. The Kings would have lifted Lord Stanley's Cup in their building.
"The mere possibility of that last scenario left 'The King' feeling ill.
"'Just the thought of it made me,' Lundqvist said, pausing and shaking his head in utter relief, 'sick.'
"Lundqvist finally had the game everyone had been waiting for and what people had anticipated when he was deemed the superior goaltender heading into the series. He stole a game for the Rangers when they were overwhelmingly outplayed by the Kings."
"In (Game 3) we outshot them two to one and we lost the game. In (Game 4) they outshoot us two to one and they lose the game. It's about finding ways and we did that. We keep the series alive and we'll travel to L.A. for Game 5 and bring it back here. That's our goal.
"We didn't play a perfect game, but we found a way."
Game 5 will be at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Calif. on June 13 with an 8:00 p.m. PST face-off.
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Poch de la Rosa
Poch de la Rosa follows all major U.S. sports: NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and the NCAA. His favorite teams are the Colts, Braves, Pacers, Sharks and Irish, respectively.
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