Rangers watch another win slip away

Henrik Lundqvist

LOS ANGELES -- Take a picture of this.

New York Rangers netminder Henrik Lundqvist was sitting motionless in his dressing room stall at Staples Center, slumped over, his head in his hands as perhaps two dozen journalists crowded around him waiting to ask him about another crushing overtime loss to the Los Angeles Kings.

The minutes passed excruciatingly before Lundqvist felt he could address the team's 5-4, double-overtime loss in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup finals, a loss that dropped the Rangers into a 2-0 deficit in a series that already seems out of reach.

Here's another picture.

In the seconds after Los Angeles captain Dustin Brown tipped home a Willie Mitchell point shot just past the midpoint of the second overtime period, there was Lundqvist sitting in his crease, legs splayed in front of him as though paralyzed by disbelief.

A few feet away, center Brad Richards lay on the ice on his stomach as the Kings celebrated down the ice and into their locker room.

Here was a game that needed to be won -- appeared to be won -- and then, somehow, excruciatingly, was lost.

"You have to move on. It's a game. We all battled, I battled and we played five periods. Obviously, the difference is not very big," Lundqvist said when he was finally ready to discuss what had transpired in the sometimes sloppy, but wildly compelling, playoff game.

"Even the last game, the difference is not big. You just have to stick with it and believe in each other and what we're doing. It's good. It's definitely good enough; it's just one bounce here or there and it's a different score here. We came up short in two games. Now, we have to go back to New York and turn this around."

Let's be clear: This was not Game 1, in which the Rangers opened up a 2-0 lead but then seemed ill prepared for a Kings third-period onslaught as they lost in overtime.

After that game, coach Alain Vigneault called out his players, saying not enough had brought their A-game.

Saturday, the Rangers looked for long stretches like they had all taken the call to arms to heart, and again, they took a 2-0, first-period lead.

The Kings answered with a goal early in the second period, but the Rangers counterpunched with a Martin St. Louis power-play marker to re-establish the two-goal cushion.

Willie Mitchell brought Los Angeles within one again with the Kings' first power-play goal of the series, but  Derick Brassard countered 11 seconds later, and again, the Rangers looked as though they had scaled the mountain heading into the third period with a 4-2 lead.

But it was not to be.

The third period was less than two minutes old when Dwight King appeared to block Lundqvist from making a play on a shot that went off King and into the goal to make it 4-3.

Lundqvist was enraged, and the Rangers came unglued, turning the puck over consistently. To no one's surprise, the Kings tied the game on a Marian Gaborik goal after Ryan McDonagh tried to make a cute play, cutting in front of his own net and losing the puck to the Kings' most dangerous shooter.

Although the Rangers rebounded and had a handful of quality scoring chances through overtime, the goal by King was a game-changer and, unless there are hockey miracles awaiting the Rangers in New York, it was a series-changer.

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