LOS ANGELES — For the second time in the Stanley Cup finals, the New York Rangers jumped out to a two-goal lead and were unable to shake the Los Angeles Kings.
Now the Eastern Conference champions face the unenviable task of overcoming a 2-0 deficit in the series with the scene shifting to Madison Square Garden. The Rangers lost 5-4 on June 6 night on Dustin Brown’s tip-in goal at 10:26 of the second overtime.
“When you play five periods, the difference is not very big between winning and losing,” goalie Henrik Lundqvist said. “We came up short, and now we have to go back to New York and turn this thing around.
“You don’t have a choice. You have to move on.”
New York took a 4-2 lead into the third period before the Kings pulled even with goals by Dwight King and former Rangers forward Marian Gaborik.
The Kings got within one with a favorable non-call that the Rangers felt should have been called goalie interference. New York wasn’t looking for a penalty, but believes King’s goal shouldn’t have counted.
King fell on Lundqvist in the crease while he was being checked by Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh.
“I’m extremely disappointed on that call — or non-call,” Lundqvist said. “They’ve got to be consistent with that rule. We get called for that penalty in the second period, and the puck isn’t even there.
“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. But that’s hockey.”
Lundqvist, who had 39 saves, didn’t accept referee Dan O’Halloran’s explanation that the puck was past him when King made contact.
“I don’t expect a penalty on the play, but they need to blow the whistle,” he said. “A goalie can’t move when you’ve got a guy like that on top of you. It’s such an important play of the game. That’s a wrist shot that I’m just going to reach out for, and I can’t move.”
King scored at 1:58 into the third, redirecting a long wrist shot by defenseman Matt Greene after Justin Williams shook off a check from Martin St. Louis and got the puck to Greene.
“So far they’ve been taking advantage of a couple of mistakes in the first two games that we just have to minimize. But their forecheck brings that out because they put a lot of pressure on us,” Lundqvist said.
The Rangers’ penalty-killing unit, which had allowed only three goals in 49 short-handed situations over the previous 15 games, gave up Willie Mitchell’s first goal of the postseason at 14:39 of the second period while Mats Zuccarello was off for tripping Brown.
Mitchell beat Lundqvist with a screened slap shot from just inside the blue line with Rangers defenseman Anton Stralman checking King in front.
“I think we can do a better job of blocking shots,” Stralman said. “They got too many point shots through. Maybe if we box out a little better in front, Henrik can see the puck a little better. But we worked hard and came really close. It just stinks right now.”
The Rangers scored just 11 seconds after Mitchell’s goal, taking advantage of a turnover. Jonathan Quick went behind the net to play the puck and left it for Mitchell, who fumbled it away to Zuccarello before Derick Brassard converted his quick pass to him at the left of the crease.
“I thought we were in control then,” Brassard said. “Every time they scored a goal, we answered them. So that’s something positive about this game. But they kept finding ways to score goals, and it’s really frustrating right now. Now we have to go back to New York and try to steal the next one.”