NEW YORK — Both teams were in full agreement: the Los Angeles Kings clearly outplayed the New York Rangers.
The scoreboard said otherwise at the end of a matchup between the NHL's hottest clubs.
Vinny Prospal scored two goals —
including his 200th in the NHL — during first-period power plays and
the Rangers stretched their winning streak to six games with a 4-2
victory Wednesday night.
"You just find a way to win when
you're not on — and we were not on," Rangers coach John Tortorella
said. "We were behind in every facet of the game but we still found a
way to win.
"That's a good sign."
Prospal added an assist on Marian
Gaborik's sixth of the season that made it 4-2 at 4:22 of the third —
on the Rangers' only shot in the period. Gaborik has 10 points and at
least one in all seven games.
"Third period is crunch time," Tortorella said. "He is that guy that you need to make a big play."
The Rangers swept a three-game
homestand in four days and improved to 6-0 since a season-opening loss
at Pittsburgh, despite Tortorella's admission that his club looked
Former Kings forward Brian Boyle
scored a second-period goal, and Henrik Lundqvist stopped 34 shots for
his fifth win in six games. It is New York's longest winning streak
since another six-game run in the 2005-06 season.
"We have a lot of confidence right
now," Lundqvist said. "It's not easy to play the third game at home in
a row … you get a little comfortable."
Ryan Smyth and Michal Handzus scored
for Los Angeles, which had won four in a row after losing on opening
night to Phoenix. Erik Ersberg, making his first start of the season in
relief of No. 1 goalie Jon Quick, stopped 17 shots.
"Going into the third, we felt this
game was ours to have," Kings captain Dustin Brown said. "We realize
this is a good game for us and we are all comfortable with everything
Smyth has been quite an addition to
the Kings' top line. He has five goals and nine points in six games,
reaching the scoresheet in each contest. Los Angeles, however, dropped
to 2-1 on its six-game road trip that began with wins at St. Louis and
the New York Islanders.
Prospal gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead
3:11 in when he tipped in defenseman Michael Del Zotto's shot for his
milestone goal in his 15th NHL season.
Gaborik quickly retrieved the puck and handed it to Prospal.
"It's a mark, but there are a lot of other players who have scored a lot more goals than me," Prospal said.
Smyth answered 1:10 later with a
similar deflection in front, but Prospal struck again for goal No. 201
— his third of the season — during New York's 5-on-3 power play at
Prospal got help from video replay
that showed that he chipped the puck in from behind the net before the
referee's whistle blew.
"I thought it was an unfortunate
break for us. In my understanding of it, it is not a reviewable
situation," Kings coach Terry Murray said.
Boyle, a Kings first-round draft
pick in 2003, scored his first goal with the Rangers 2:17 into the
second when his drive clanged hard off the left post and bounced in off
Ersberg's leg to make it 3-1.
"It would have been a great start if
I stopped the shots," Ersberg said. "It was not the first game I was
looking for. I think we should have had this game."
The Kings again climbed within a
goal when Handzus deflected in Jack Johnson's long shot at 7:18 of the
second. As Toronto did in a loss to New York on Monday, Los Angeles
carried play in the middle period, but not enough to get even.
Los Angeles held a 14-11 shots edge in the second and 10-1 in the third.
Gaborik sealed the Rangers' latest
win when he calmly skated into the Los Angeles zone, while corralling a
pass from Prospal that was behind him, and unleashing a perfect wrist
shot from the left circle.
"He just beat me fair and square," Ersberg said. "It was a good shot, but if we want to win this game I have to stop that."
Kings C Anze Kopitar had his
point streak snapped at five games. He was originally credited with an
assist on Smyth's goal but it was changed. … Los Angeles hasn't won
five straight since Feb. 11-March 7, 2006. The Kings hadn't lost at
Madison Square Garden since Nov. 28, 2000. … Injured Rangers enforcer
Donald Brashear was replaced in the lineup by Aaron Voros. … New York
is 12-1 in its last 13 home games, dating to last season.