On the brink of elimination, the Rangers gave their Madison Square Garden faithful something to cheer about – but still needed some manic defending late on to secure a game five, and keep their slim hopes of winning the NHL championship alive.
With just over a minute to play, Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist – who finished the match with 40 saves – saw the puck slip through his legs and skid towards goal, before it was held up by a small build-up of ice.
Rangers went on to clear the danger via Derek Stepan, just as they had in the first period, when Anton Stralman got his stick to a goal-bound puck as it was in the process of crossing the line, and under severe pressure from LA’s Jeff Carter.
Stralman’s save preserved the Rangers’ one-goal lead, which had been gained when Benoit Pouliot struck in the eighth minute.
Pouliot got a touch on John Moore’s long-range strike, deflecting the puck with his stick behind him into the back of the net.
The Rangers doubled their lead early in the second period, when Martin St Louis capitalised on a loose puck to score from a tight angle past LA goaltender Jonathan Quick.
Dustin Brown then capitalised on a Dan Girardi turnover, to skate the length of the ice and beat Lundqvist one-on-one to give the Kings a sniff of yet another comeback.
LA had already won games one and two of the series in overtime, having never led in regulation of either game.
But the Rangers held on, largely thanks to Stepan – whose quick thinking saw him scoop the puck off the goal line with his left hand with little over a minute remaining, and seeing them avoid a series whitewash.
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