LOS ANGELES (CBSNewYork/AP) — Henrik Lundqvist sat slumped in his locker, hands on his head, legs splayed, still wearing his pads and skates.
Then the New York Rangers goalie lowered his head.
Nearby, his teammates spoke in hushed voices, careful to leave a wide swath around Lundqvist’s locker.
It would be several minutes before the Swede was composed enough to put words to the dejection he felt.
“It’s heartbreak,” Lundqvist said, his face bright red and his eyes watery.
The Rangers couldn’t hold their lead in the third period, and they couldn’t convert on near-misses in two overtimes, losing 3-2 to the Los Angeles Kings on Friday night and failing to extend the Stanley Cup finals.
“I worked so hard for every game in these playoffs,” Lundqvist said. “I’ve never been so tired. I feel like I’ve done everything I could to try to help the team. It was not enough against (Los Angeles).”
The Kings claimed their second Cup in three years.
“It’s pretty hard to lose that way when you see them celebrate,” center Derick Brassard said. “We had a great run, but at the end of the day we wanted to win and that’s the hardest part.”
For the third time in the series, the game went to overtime. Two were decided in double OT, and all of them were won by the Kings on their home ice.
“All three games in this building we could have easily won,” Lundqvist said. “I think we hit the post in every overtime.”
The Kings ended a nerve-rattling game at 14:43 of the second OT. Lundqvist made a kick save, but couldn’t recover in time to stop a shot by Alec Martinez. Lundqvist collapsed face down on the ice as the Kings leaped in celebration.
“I said coming into this playoffs I wanted to leave everything out there,” he said.
The Rangers were playing for the Cup for the first time since winning it in 1994.
“Three games here all went to OT,” coach Alain Vigneault said. “What can I say?”
In overtime, New York was outshot 22-15. The Rangers threatened when the puck hit the left post after being redirected in the second OT. Ryan McDonagh hit the right post in the first OT playing on his 25th birthday.
“We tried not to get frustrated when we saw replays,” said Lundqvist, who fended off a flurry of close-in shots in the first OT.
New York rallied to take a one-goal lead in the second period, when its special teams came up big. Chris Kreider scored on a power play, chipping in the puck from the left side. Kings goalie Jonathan Quick had made just 10 saves before the Rangers scored.
“We tried our best,” Vigneault said. “Everybody laid it out there. I’m very proud of our group, very proud of their effort.”
With Dominic Moore sent off for hooking, teammate Brian Boyle gave the Rangers a 2-1 lead. Boyle waited long enough for Quick to keep sliding out of the crease and then fired the puck into the top right corner of the net with Drew Doughty the only defender in front of the net.
New York gave up the tying goal in the third when former Ranger Marian Gaborik jammed the puck through Lundqvist’s legs on a power play.
The Rangers were outshot 12-3 in the third, when they missed scoring chances in the final five minutes. Boyle was foiled trying to score off a faceoff.
“Every inch on the ice was contested real hard,” Vigneault said. “Both teams were battling at an unreal level.”
Martin St. Louis and Brad Richards missed on four shots each in the game.
“We just didn’t capitalize on our chances,” Brassard said. “We hit three or four posts in OT. We had some good looks. Our goalie gave us a chance to win. We couldn’t get a goal for our goalie. That’s another frustrating part.”
Lundqvist finished 5-1 in elimination games this postseason.
“Obviously everybody’s very disappointed in the outcome,” Vigneault said. “You go into this hoping that you don’t regret anything. We put it out there. We gave our best shot, best effort.”
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