Henrik Lundqvist has given Rangers hope, but can he do it again? | Hockey | CBC Sports

Hockey Night in CanadaHenrik Lundqvist has given Rangers hope, but can he do it again?

Posted: Thursday, June 12, 2014 | 05:13 PM

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New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist blocks a shot as Los Angeles Kings centre Mike Richards looks for the rebound in the first period during Game 4. (Frank Franklin II/The Associated Press) New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist blocks a shot as Los Angeles Kings centre Mike Richards looks for the rebound in the first period during Game 4. (Frank Franklin II/The Associated Press)

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It's strange how much the 2014 Stanley Cup final has played out in the same manner as when the Los Angeles Kings were victorious in 2012.

The victory was a start.

But whether the New York Rangers narrow 2-1 victory at home on Wednesday was the start of a remarkable comeback or a prolong to the inevitable - a second Stanley Cup championship in three years for the Los Angeles Kings - remains to seen.

First things first, however. The Rangers didn't want to see the Kings take a victory lap around the Madison Square Garden ice surface. They also didn't want to be the first team to be swept in the final since the Washington Capitals were defeated in four in a row in 1998 by the Detroit Red Wings.

The Game 4 victory was not the best effort from the Rangers in the series. But they did snatch a 2-0 lead by the 6:26 mark of the second period and then turned the game over to their all-world netminder Henrik Lundqvist.

Unlike Game 3, the Rangers also received some bounces. There were a couple of goal-line stances in that Lundqvist required help behind him from defenceman Anton Stralman and centre Derek Stepan to keep the puck out.

But Lundqvist was good enough to make 40 saves to improve his elimination game record in the 2014 playoff run to a perfect 5-0 with a .971 save percentage. Can he come up with a repeat performance in Game 5 in Los Angeles on Friday? Why not?

After Martin St. Louis put the Rangers up 2-0 in the second period, the Kings peppered Lundqvist and outshot New York 27-6. The Rangers only hung on because of the man in net they call King.

"He was tremendous for us," Stralman said of his goalie. "He came out big numerous times. When the puck was dancing on the goal line, a couple guys cleared it. He was amazing for us."

With the victory, the Rangers became the seventh of 27 teams in Stanley Cup final history to face a 3-0 series deficit and avoid a four-game sweep. But only one team, the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1942 against the Red Wings stormed all the way back to beat their opponents in seven games to claim the championship.

Teams facing 3-0 series deficit, Stanley Cup final history

Lost in 4 Games: 20

Lost in 5 Games: 3

Lost in 6 Games: 1 (New Jersey in 2012 vs. Los Angeles)

Lost in 7 Games: 1 (Detroit in 1945 vs. Toronto)

Won in 7 Games: 1 (Toronto in 1942 vs. Detroit)

It has been amazing how similar this final has played out through four games, compared to when the Kings beat the New Jersey Devils in six games two years ago.

2012 Stanley Cup Final (Los Angeles vs. New Jersey)

Game 1: Los Angeles 2-1 at New Jersey (OT)

Game 2: Los Angeles 2-1 at New Jersey (OT)

Game 3: Los Angeles 4-0 at Los Angeles

Game 4: New Jersey 3-1 at Los Angeles 1

2014 Stanley Cup (Los Angeles vs. N.Y. Rangers)

Game 1: Los Angeles 3-2 at Los Angeles (OT)

Game 2: Los Angeles 5-4 at Los Angeles (2OT)

Game 3: Los Angeles 3-0 at N.Y. Rangers

Game 4: NY Rangers 2-1 at N.Y. Rangers

Unlike in Game 4 on Wednesday, the Rangers were not able to hold onto the two-goal leads they built in the first-two outings. At least, they can return to the Staples Center with the confidence that they can hold onto a lead in this series.

"Those two games we played [in Los Angeles], I thought we played real well," Stralman said. "We have to go in with the same mindset we had. What we did in that second game was to work real hard, we put tremendous pressure on their [defencemen] and feed off their turnovers.

"That's what we tried to do [on Wednesday]. We didn't get that far, I didn't think. We feel confident on the road or at home, so we'll go in and play our game."

At least now, the Rangers have a starting point.

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