So that was a really exciting and unpredictable hockey game! Except for the part, you know, where I knew who was going to win no matter what the scoreboard said before the final horn sounded. On a personal note, I did not swear or rant about the Kings on Twitter.
The Rangers were faster than the Kings in the first period and surprisingly physical. They traded blows and nastiness and harassed the Kings on the forecheck. They peppered Jonathan Quick from anywhere and everywhere, generated some breakaway chances with lights out speed, got beat up in front of the net, but did get out to a 2-goal lead on breakaway goals by Benoit Pouliot and Carl Hagelin. A teaser lead, as we know.
It was only the first period, so the Kings kept playing hockey. Just before the end of the period, Kyle Clifford netted a low angle chip over Henrik Lundqvist's right shoulder near the end of the first period off a scramble pass from below the goal line from Jeff Carter to make it 2-1. This came just after several Rangers chances led to a highlight montage of the Rangers' missed opportunities for a 3rd goal.
We definitely need a timer to record how long it takes the Kings to score after NBC's Pierre McGuire mentions their opponents' "missed opportunities". It's gotta be less than 90 seconds on average.
Early in the 2nd period, Drew Doughty took a pass from his right in the high left slot on his forehand, slipped it through his legs to create space, hesitated for a split second, then ripped the puck under Lundqvist's right armpit to tie the game. This play made up for his pee-wee level fancy toe-drag first-period turnover from the offensive blue line that had led to Pouliot's first goal. (Drew Doughty is just awesome. Watching him and the Rangers' Chris Kreider beat the tar out of each other in front of Jonathan Quick is better than any pay-per-view boxing match.) Opportunities were traded, as were hits. The period ended 2-2.
In the third period, the Rangers seemed a little tired from skating as fast as they could and hitting guys who are mostly bigger than they are. The Kings outshot them 20-3 (apparently according to reports that is the largest period shot differential in the Stanley Cup Finals since 1967) in the period, but Lundqvist was Lundqvist, so it remained 2-2.
The mandatory awesome Jonathan Quick challenge moment tonight starred Ranger forward Carl Hagelin, who had a shorthanded breakaway with 40 seconds left in the game. As expected, Jonathan Quick challenged far out of his crease and deflected Hagelin's shot over the crossbar with his left forearm. An insane scramble on the other end followed, but no goals, and the game ended in a tie. Until overtime.
In overtime, just under 5 minutes in, Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi had the puck hop over his stick at his own blue line. Falling to his knees, he tried to clear the puck. Naturally, it went directly to Mike Richards at the offensive left point, who just happened to be perfectly positioned to intercept a desperate clearing attempt from a defenseman on his knees. Richards quickly flipped it to Justin Williams, you know, because. Williams beat Lundqvist blocker side (sense a pattern? The Kings certainly do!) for the game-winning goal.
Tonight, these were two very good hockey teams playing a high energy game, with 2 excellent goaltenders. As I had hoped, the hockey was exciting in game 1. As I expected, the Kings won. The Rangers could easily have won this game. But they didn't.
As for me, with acceptance comes calm. The Kings are going to win. It may take 6 or 7 games, or it may take only 3 more like this one. They won't care either way, until it's over, which is probably the main reason why they will win. I just hope the games are as exciting as this one.
At least that's what I'm telling myself.