It took a while for the Los Angeles Kings to wake up, but these days it seems they don’t get out of bed until they are in a hole. The Kings dominated the second half of the game and after spotting the New York Rangers a 2-0 first period lead they controlled the play and Justin Williams scored in overtime to take game 1 by a score of 3-2.
Benoit Pouliot opened the scoring for the Rangers after he picked the pocket of Drew Doughty at the Rangers blue line and on the resulting breakaway tucked a wrist shot past Jonathan Quick. New York doubled the lead while shorthanded less than 2 minutes later. Carl Hagelin took an outlet pass from Brian Boyle and chipped the puck past Slava Voynov into the Kings zone. Hagelin beat Voynov to the loose puck and went in on Quick, who made the save but the rebound went off the skate of the backchecking Voynov and into the cage.
The Kings got one back before the first period was out, after a good forecheck by Jeff Carter who got the puck to Kyle Clifford on the lip of the crease, and Clifford somehow chipped it over Henrik Lundqvist from in close to bring the Kings within a goal.
Drew Doughty made up for his first period gaffe that resulted in Pouliot’s goal with a beauty of his own, taking a pass from Williams, dragging it through his legs before wristing it past Lundqvist to tie the game 6:36 into the middle stanza.
The Kings size and speed wore down the Rangers and resulted in a third period where Lundqvist was under siege and the Kings were all over them. They outshot the Rangers 20-3 in the period, but to his credit Lundqvist held firm and force the game into extra time.
“Mr. Game 7″, Willams extended his legend to Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final as he was the hero in overtime, taking a pass from Mike Richards in the slot and beating Lundqvist stick side for the winner. It was a choppy play that began with a brutal zone entry by the Kings, but Dan Girardi gave the puck up to Richards, who had been motioning to the Kings bench for a line change, but found the puck on his stick with Williams in the clear because Girardi’s partner Ryan McDonagh had already left the zone anticipating the puck getting out.
The teams have two days off to prepare for Saturday night’s game 2, where the series will really start after the feeling out process of game 1. The Kings will try to take a commanding lead while the Rangers would like to return home feeling good about themselves with a split on enemy ice.