LOS ANGELES (AP) – Captain Dustin Brown redirected Willie Mitchell’s shot 10:26 into the second overtime, and the Los Angeles Kings outlasted the New York Rangers 5-4 Saturday night to take a 2-0 lead in the Stanley Cup finals.
Marian Gaborik tied it with 12:24 left in regulation for the Kings, who rallied from another two-goal deficit in their latest exhibition of clutch comeback hockey.
In their third straight overtime game, they traded scoring chances with New York before Mitchell teed up a long shot. Brown deflected it under Henrik Lundqvist’s glove arm, ending the longest finals game in Rangers history and nearly the longest playoff game in Kings history.
“We’ve been digging ourselves holes here, but our resiliency – we dig deep,” said Mitchell, who also scored his first playoff goal in more than two years.
Lundqvist made 39 saves for New York, and Jonathan Quick had 34 for Los Angeles.
Game 3 is Monday night at Madison Square Garden.
Jarret Stoll and Dwight King also scored for the Kings, who made up for a mistake-filled performance with their usual comeback acumen. Quick made a handful of stellar overtime saves before his teammates finished it.
The comeback Kings rallied from a two-goal deficit for the fourth time in their past five games. They haven’t led during any of their past three games, going to overtime each night.
They still finished off Chicago in the Western Conference finals and moved halfway to the second Stanley Cup championship in franchise history.
Mats Zuccarello and Derick Brassard had a goal and an assist apiece for the Rangers, who had three two-goal leads in Game 2. Ryan McDonagh and Martin St. Louis also scored, but New York couldn’t finish another strong effort.
The Rangers are heading home in a big hole in their quest for their first Stanley Cup title in 20 years. But despite their propensity for blowing leads, they’ve also proven this series won’t be a walkover for the deep, experienced Kings.
After falling agonizingly short of an opening victory, New York played its smart, counterattacking style to great effect in Game 2, only to fall victim to another momentum-draining comeback.
The Kings fell behind 2-0 in the first period for the second straight game, and they trailed 4-2 entering the third period before Dwight King got the comeback rolling when Matt Greene’s slap shot hit him and went in while King fell on top of Lundqvist.
McDonagh then gave the puck to Gaborik in front, and the Kings’ late-season acquisition beat Lundqvist for his 13th goal of a phenomenal postseason.
Neither team played cautiously in overtime, trading good scoring chances and three fruitless power plays in the first extra period. King nearly ended it with a short-handed one-timer, and Chris Kreider failed to score on a breakaway.
After blowing a 2-0 lead in the opener, New York had three different two-goal leads in Game 2. The Kings still came roaring back.
McDonagh scored on a long slap shot and assisted on Zuccarello’s tap-in goal in the first period, quieting the Los Angeles crowd. Stoll scored on a broken play early in the second after King jumped on Brad Richards’ turnover, but St. Louis answered with his first goal of the finals on a power play.
Mitchell exemplified the Kings’ inconsistency during an 11-second stretch of the second period. Right after the veteran defenseman trimmed the lead to 3-2 with his first playoff goal since April 11, 2012, he whiffed on the puck behind Los Angeles’ net, allowing Zuccarello to pass to Brassard for a score.
Los Angeles rallied with a fortunate bounce off King, although the Rangers wanted an interference penalty on the bruising forward, who was tussling with McDonagh when he fell on Lundqvist.