NHL Playoffs: Kings Stage Comeback and Escape With Game One

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Jeff Carter Kyle Clifford

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

New York Rangers at Los Angeles Kings – LAK win 3-2 (OT), LAK leads series 1-0

These two teams combined to play 41 games through the first three rounds of the playoffs, one game shy of the possible maximum. With just two days off for Los Angeles and three for New York, Game 1 shaped up to be a potentially high scoring affair. When teams get tired, there is the potential for defense to be the first detail that goes lacking.

With the expectation of a high-scoring game, there was a good chance that special teams would be a big factor in this game.

Los Angeles came into Game 1 with a distinct edge in the power play department so far these playoffs. Though the Rangers had 14 more power play opportunities than the Kings through the first three rounds, Los Angeles had six more goals. Their efficiency (25.4-percent) was considerably better than that of New York (13.6-percent). The Rangers did have a definite edge in penalty killing, allowing six fewer goals while on the penalty kill than the Kings.

The New York power play looked better in the Montreal series but they still didn’t have a great shooting option. Defenseman Ryan McDonagh, though, led the team with six power play points through the first three rounds and he would probably have to be big for them in point production in this one. Conversely, his counter-part Drew Doughty, would probably have to do the same.

It didn’t take long for both special teams and the big ticket defensemen to become involved. A turnover by Doughty at the offensive blue line led to a Benoit Pouliot breakaway and a 1-0 lead for the Rangers in the first period.  Less than two minutes later, Carl Hagelin would break away from defenseman Slava Voynov while short-handed to give the Rangers a 2-0 lead.

Kyle Clifford scored a late first period goal, then Doughty figured in the scoring again. This time, the defenseman was the recipient of a nice pass from Justin Williams and finished a nice goal to tie the game at two apiece.

The overtime winner was off the stick of Justin Williams, his eighth of the playoffs. It was also off the stick of Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi, who fumbled the puck and fell to his knees in his own end, causing a turnover. One pass from Mike Richards later and the Kings had a 1-0 series lead.

It was an up-and-down game from Drew Doughty, who finished with nearly 27 minutes of ice time (out of 64:36). The turnover led to one goal against but he scored another on a very nice play. The special teams went a combined 0-for-7, though the Rangers did have that short-handed goal from Hagelin.

Neither McDonagh nor Doughty stood out aside from the Doughty turnovers. McDonagh was on the ice for 23 shot attempts against in a bit over 21 minutes of 5-on-5 ice time. Doughty wasn’t his usual self, either, with just a 51.2-percent possession rating. Anze Kopitar was spectacular for the Kings as he was on the ice for just eight shot attempts against in a shade over 15 minutes of ice time. For reference, no forward that played at least 12 minute of 5-on-5 time tonight was on the ice for fewer than 11.

Predictably, it was a sloppy game with turnovers all over the ice, one of them leading to the overtime goal. Both teams will be better on Saturday and there doesn’t seem to be much sense in reading too much into this one.

*as always, thanks to Extra Skater and Shift Chart for their resources.

Michael Clifford was born and raised in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada and is a graduate of the Unviersity of New Brunswick. He writes about fantasy hockey and baseball for XNSports and FantasyTrade411.com. He can be reached on Twitter @SlimCliffy for any fantasy hockey questions.