LOS ANGELES – The comeback Kings did it again in the Stanley Cup final, and this one was doubly impressive.
Captain Dustin Brown redirected Willie Mitchell’s shot 10 minutes, 26 seconds into the second overtime, and the Los Angeles Kings outlasted the New York Rangers 5-4 Saturday night to take a 2-0 series lead.
Marian Gaborik tied it with 12:24 left in regulation for the Kings, who rallied from another two-goal deficit in their latest exhibition of clutch comeback hockey.
Rallying from a two-goal deficit for the fourth time in their past five games, they moved halfway to a series victory and their second Stanley Cup championship in three years.
“It’s not the place we want to be, to have to climb out all the time,” said Mitchell, who also scored his first playoff goal in more than two years.
“Sooner or later, it is going to bite you. I guess that’s the great part about it is we find a way to battle back. We’ve got some work to do again.”
In their third straight overtime game, the Kings traded scoring chances with New York in two nail-biting overtime periods before Mitchell teed up a long shot.
Brown deflected it under Henrik Lundqvist’s glove arm, ending the longest finals game in Rangers history and nearly the longest playoff game in Kings history.
“You want to create what we call noise there,” Mitchell said. “Hank plays so deep in his net, and if you can get some traffic and throw some pucks at the net when a guy plays deep like that, sometimes you’re lucky enough to get one past a world-class goalie.”
The Kings are making their own remarkable brand of noise, all right. They haven’t led during any of their past three games, going to overtime each night, but they still finished off Chicago in the Western Conference finals and took a big series lead on the Rangers, who have twice fallen agonizingly short.
“When you play five periods, the difference is not very big between winning and losing,” Lundqvist said. “We came up short, and now we have to go back to New York and turn this thing around.”
Lundqvist made 39 saves for New York, and Jonathan Quick had 34 for Los Angeles. Both goalies made a handful of stellar overtime stops.
Lundqvist and the Rangers were furious about Los Angeles’ third goal. Dwight King got the comeback rolling when Matt Greene’s slap shot hit him and went in while King fell on top of Lundqvist, who thought an interference penalty should have been called.
“I’m extremely disappointed on that call – or non-call,” Lundqvist said. “I mean, they’ve got to be consistent with that rule. … They score a goal, and I can’t even move. It’s extremely frustrating for them to get life like that. After that, it’s a different game.”
Jarret Stoll also scored for the Kings, who made up for a mistake-filled performance with their usual big finish.
Mats Zuccarello and Derick Brassard had a goal and an assist apiece for the Rangers, who had three two-goal leads in Game 2. Ryan McDonagh and Martin St. Louis also scored, but New York couldn’t finish another strong effort.
The Rangers are heading home in a big hole in their quest for their first Stanley Cup title in 20 years. But despite their propensity for blowing leads, they’ve also proven this series won’t be a walkover for the deep, experienced Kings.