In a game I barely paid attention to due to putting in some work time at home, the Rangers managed to blow one to the Kings falling 5-4 in overtime. Anyway you slice it, this was a bad loss. Sure. They earned a point. But save the bull crap for other blogs.
While I spoke to people and had the game up on my laptop on mute, it was hectic. The Kings jumped out to a 2-0 lead on goals from Anze Kopitar and Marian Gaborik. Before I even checked, LA was already up one with Kopitar scoring 33 seconds in following a Marc Staal turnover. Staal had a forgettable period. He was in the box when Gaborik came out and snapped his 12th by backup Antti Raanta for a power play goal.
At that point, I concluded it’s gonna be one of those games. The Rangers responded to LA’s strong start by getting one back from Viktor Stalberg. He finished off a nice set up from Kevin Hayes and Oscar Lindberg 1:34 later.
The turnaround continued in the second period. The second line did the damage with two consecutive goals in 1:37. First, Derek Stepan undressed the Kings defense and fooled emergency starter Peter Budaj for his 10th unassisted tying the score at 7:44. Then, as I looked up, Mats Zuccarello was already celebrating his team-leading 19th from Chris Kreider and Stepan at 9:21 for the Rangers’ first lead.
Like they had in the Stanley Cup Final, the Kings came back with Kopitar once more finishing in front off a Milan Lucic pass from Dustin Brown. Kevin Klein was beaten badly. Let’s just say it was a harbinger of things to come. It wasn’t one of his best performances.
With the game still tied, Stanley Cup hero Alec Martinez was almost the goat. He took a delay of game minor for LA’s only penalty of the contest. It came with 6:30 left in regulation. In miraculous fashion, the Rangers actually scored a power play goal. Considering the frigid weather conditions, this moment should be frozen in time. Zuccarello sped through the Kings’ zone and passed across for a wide open Hayes, who buried his second goal in two games. Keith Yandle drew the secondary helper. That gave the Rangers a 4-3 lead with 4:46 left.
But whenever they face the Kings no matter who’s in goal or playing, it’s never over until the final buzzer. In the Rangers’ case, they iced the puck and got burned. Off what else but a faceoff win from Kopitar, eventually Jeff Carter and Drew Doughty got the puck back to him in the right circle. He let go of a wrist shot that was headed wide until the puck bounced off Klein’s helmet and in past a helpless Raanta with 30 seconds remaining. That gave Kopitar a hat trick. He’s their best player for a reason. That’s why they shelled out the big bucks handing him an eight-year $80 million extension.
The three-on-three roller derby was more entertaining than most Ranger games. Each team traded early chances. With the Rangers coming close at one end, before I could check the video, the Kings were celebrating Tanner Pearson’s overtime winner at 3:10. He beat Raanta from way out for just his seventh. Some fans complained about Alain Vigneault having Dan Boyle out. It is three-on-three. You go for it. Boyle is high risk, high reward. So, I don’t take any issue. As if they wanted to play for a shootout with Raanta against Budaj.
Simply put, sometimes you get beat. Even if it was a awful goal for Raanta to allow (unscreened), it happened. End of story. That’s what you get when the coach refuses to play Raanta. He was rusty. So, it was expected. Some fans made interesting comments when Raanta got off to a good start. There were the usual veiled shots at Cam Talbot from a fan base that is quick to dismiss our former players. Since, Talbot has recovered regaining the number one job with Edmonton, who re-signed him.
These games happen. It was just aggravating because it was against the Kings. At least it wasn’t Henrik Lundqvist losing against Jonathan Quick. That would’ve been much worse. At the very least, they still earned a point moving four up on the Islanders for second. The next game is the final one against the Flyers and Wayne Simmonds. Tanner Glass has made it known how he’ll deal with Simmonds.
“You have to think team first, so you’re not taking a penalty,” Glass said. “You’re not trying to hurt your team in anyway. You just have to let [Simmonds] know that that’s not going to be tolerated. [McDonagh’s] our captain, he’s our best player, [Simmonds] can’t do that. He’ll know. He’ll know.”
That game can be seen on NBC Sports Network Sunday night. The most important part is for the Rangers to win on the scoreboard. Any payback should not come at the expense of getting a ‘W.’ However, it’s coming. Get yer popcorn ready.