Rangers Take Another Baby Step, Crown Kings
NEW YORK (AP) — Henrik Lundqvist had more than the Los Angeles Kings standing between him and his 200th NHL win. He also fought a slew of bouncing pucks that found their way behind him.
Lundqvist outlasted the Kings and their good fortune in the shootout Thursday night to give the Rangers a 4-3 victory that left him with the milestone win.
Twice in the third period the Rangers took a one-goal lead, but the Kings tied it soon after. Defenseman Matt Greene scored his first goal in more than a year with a shot that caromed in off Rangers forward Brian Boyle. Los Angeles captain Dustin Brown netted his second of the night with 2:21 left in regulation by banking a shot in off Lundqvist.
“It was a game of ups and downs,” said Lundqvist, in his sixth NHL season, all with the Rangers. “The second one hit our guy, and the third one hit me in the head and went in. They never gave up. I’m just happy with the two points. They are very important right now.”
Lundqvist secured those by knocking Anze Kopitar’s final shootout shot over the net.
The Rangers, seventh in the Eastern Conference, have won two straight after a six-game losing streak. They lead No. 8 Carolina by four points and ninth-place Buffalo by six.
“It was a really important game for us to get two in a row and try to start a good streak,” Lundqvist said. “Teams are catching up.”
The Kings are counting points, as well, and have earned at least one in a team record-tying 11 straight games (8-0-3).
Only one other time — in 1974 — have the Kings earned a point in 11 consecutive games, and that was before the advent of the overtime loss and the shootout. Los Angeles also recorded a point for the ninth consecutive road game (6-0-3), three shy of breaking the team mark set in the 1973-74 season.
The Kings are 5-0-3 on their 10-game road trip that has stops left on Long Island and at Anaheim. Los Angeles started the night in a five-way tie for fifth place in the crowded Western Conference race. The Kings haven’t lost in regulation since a 2-0 defeat against Phoenix on Jan. 20.
“That point is huge,” Brown said. “Shootouts, it is what it is. We’ve won our fair amount of those. This was a huge point not to get. We just have to refocus. We’ve had a good road trip but we can make it a great one if we win against the Islanders.”
Erik Christensen and Mats Zuccarello scored on the Rangers’ first two shootout attempts before Jarret Stoll got a shot past Lundqvist to send the tiebreaker into a third round. Jonathan Bernier poke-checked the puck off Wojtek Wolski’s stick to keep the Kings alive, but Lundqvist turned aside Kopitar to end it.
“I was real pleased to get into a tie game and get into the overtime,” Kings coach Terry Murray said. “Unfortunately, we started the overtime with a 4-minute penalty.
“I hate the shootouts. I don’t even watch it.”
Ryan Callahan had a goal and an assist, and Marian Gaborik and Artem Anisimov both scored in the third for New York, which had several minutes of power-play time in overtime thanks to Alexei Ponikarovsky’s double high-sticking penalty at the end of regulation. It was cut down when Brandon Dubinsky was called for high-sticking in overtime.
When Dubinsky shoved a wraparound shot that went in off Anisimov with 2:21 left in regulation, it appeared the Kings’ point streak would end. But Brown’s goal rescued Los Angeles.
Greene snapped a 72-game goal drought with a drive from the right point that clipped Boyle’s stick and got past Lundqvist at 7:50 — just 1:40 after Gaborik gave New York its first lead.
Gaborik had gone seven games without a goal, but it probably seemed much more like Greene’s stretch of futility to the forward who netted 42 last season. He wristed a shot that beat Bernier’s outstretched blocker and found its way into the long side at 6:10 for his 17th goal.
“I felt pretty good,” Gaborik said. “It was rolling so it was kind of a knuckleball.”
Callahan got the Rangers even 4:01 into the second period, scoring his fifth in seven games after missing 19 because of a broken hand.
The Kings jumped in front 1-0 just 5:25 in when Brown capitalized on Dubinsky’s boarding penalty.
Los Angeles missed chances to take advantage of the Rangers in the second period when the Kings had the only two power plays. Despite calls against defenseman Michael Del Zotto and Dubinsky less than 3 minutes apart, New York held an 11-9 edge in shots and scored the only goal of the frame.
The Kings were 1 for 3 on the power play after going 0 for 9 in the previous four games combined.
Notes: Greene has six goals in 355 NHL games. He hadn’t had one since Jan. 28, 2010, at Columbus. … Stoll scored the shootout winner for the Kings on Wednesday at Columbus. … The Rangers had gone 1-5-1 since Gaborik’s previous goal at Washington on Jan. 24.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)