It’s difficult to imagine the word “hockey” being the first response to “California” or “June” in any Word Association game, but the Los Angeles Kings are doing their best to change that.
The New York Rangers came into Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals with nearly a week’s worth of rest; in contrast the L.A. Kings had only a couple of days. Which favored who is still up for debate as both teams showed up ready to play for Wednesday’s contest at Staples Center.
In fact, it was so close that it took an overtime goal by Kings’ right-winger Justin Williams to decide this game.
The visitors went into the dressing room with a 2-1 lead on goals by Benoit Pouliot and Carl Hagelin; the latter’s tally coming while shorthanded. Kyle Clifford cut the lead in half for the home team with under three minutes left in the 1st.
The 2nd period saw only one goal, and it was a beauty. The highlight reel marker came off the stick of Kings’ defenseman Drew Doughty 6:36 in.
Both squads entered the 3rd period with the game tied, and an opening match victory still very much up for grabs.
Indeed, it took an extra period for the Kings to claim this victory. But in the end a victory it was. And now they need only three.
There are many people, including myself, who believe that the fantastic Western Conference Finals was the actual battle for Lord Stanley’s chalice. And despite the Rangers showing in this opening match, I still think that to be true.
In order for them to pull this off they’re going to need every ounce of Henrik Lundqvist’s skills on display for the duration of this series. Can they do it? Time will tell.
Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals is Saturday in Los Angeles, 7pm ET/4pm PT.