Kings, Rangers aim to make up ground in playoff pursuit at MSG
A slow start and an inability to finish Saturday night cost the New York Rangers and Los Angeles Kings chances to beat two of the NHL's elite teams and make up ground in their long-shot playoff pursuits.
The Rangers and Kings will look to author more complete performances Monday night, when New York hosts Los Angeles at Madison Square Garden.
Both teams were off Sunday following narrow defeats Saturday, when the Rangers fell to the visiting NHL-leading Tampa Bay Lightning 3-2 and the Kings squandered a third-period lead in a 4-2 loss to the host New York Islanders.
The loss was the second in three games since the All-Star Break for the Rangers, who easily could have won all three games. On Tuesday night, New York fell to the Philadelphia Flyers, 1-0, despite outshooting the Flyers 38-19.
On Saturday, the Rangers fell behind 3-0 before the midway point of the second period before storming back against the Lightning, whom they outshot 16-4 in the third period. But New York could not get the equalizer after Kevin Hayes scored on the power play with 13:11 left.
"There's no moral victories in the NHL, but if you watch the game film, we put together a good three games," Hayes said afterward. "We've got 31 games left, and you need points. And I felt like we could have got points in every game since the break. And we only have two points. And in order to take the next step, which is (making the) playoffs, we've got to get some points under our belt."
The Kings looked like they might get at least one point when Ilya Kovalchuk scored with 6:45 left Saturday to put Los Angeles ahead 2-1. But the Islanders needed just 31 seconds to tie the score before putting the game away with two more goals in a 52-second span.
The inability to finish symbolizes the difficulty the Kings have experienced in trying to mount the type of run they'll need to get back into the playoff race. Los Angeles, which has the fewest points in the Western Conference, has alternated wins with losses in its last six games.
"I mean, it's cliche, but you've got to play 60 minutes in this league if you want to win," Kings defenseman Alec Martinez said following the loss. "We didn't do that, and that's what happens."
A pair of likely Hall of Fame-bound goalies, the Rangers' Henrik Lundqvist and the Kings' Jonathan Quick, are expected to square off against each other Monday night in a rematch of the 2014 Stanley Cup Finals, which the Kings won in five games.
Both goalies took the loss Saturday night, when Lundqvist made 20 saves against the Lightning and Quick stopped 28 shots against the Islanders.
Lundqvist is 5-6-2 in 13 career regular season appearances against the Kings. Quick is 5-4-0 in nine regular season games against the Rangers. Both goalies were the only ones to appear in net for their teams in the 2014 finals, when Los Angeles earned three overtime wins.
--Field Level Media
Updated February 3, 2019