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Kings Look To Lift Cup

Back at Staples Center, the Los Angeles Kings will look to celebrate a second Stanley Cup in three years as they meet the New York Rangers in Game 5 of the Finals.

Back at Staples Center, the Los Angeles Kings will look to celebrate a second Stanley Cup in three years as they meet the New York Rangers in Game 5 of the Finals.

Having failed to close out the series in Manhattan, the Los Angeles Kings will look to put the finishing touches on their championship run Friday as they host the New York Rangers in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals.

Opening face-off at Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles is scheduled for 8:00 p.m. ET.

Wednesday’s Game 4 saw New York take a lead and hold onto it for the first time this series, eventually earning a 2-1 victory in an action-packed game.

Benoit Pouliot got things started early, redirecting a high puck into the Los Angeles goal just seven minutes and change into the game. Martin St. Louis made it 2-0 when he beat Jonathan Quick seven minutes into the second period.

Trailing by two goals hasn’t posed a problem for the Kings this series, or this postseason for that matter, though and Darryl Sutter’s side set about putting together another comeback.

Dustin Brown cut the lead in half less than two minutes after St. Louis’ goal, putting the puck in the net via the post and a gap in Henrik Lundqvist’s legs on a Kings’ breakaway. Ranger fans began to think “not again” while the players took a deep breath.

Lundqvist then took over the game.

In something of a role reversal, the Swedish goaltender faced an onslaught from the Kings offense, while Quick in the Los Angeles net had a quiet evening. The Kings outshot the Rangers 41-19 in the game, including a 15-1 advantage during the final period.

But Lundqvist – and what appeared to be some devine intervention – proved to be a match for the Kings, stopping 40 shots and not allowing that all-important second goal. With Lundqvist’s outstanding play came the Rangers’ first finals win in 19 years and 363 days.

The victory saw the streak of Stanley Cup Finals without a sweep extend to 15 years.

By staving off elimination, the Rangers set an NHL record with an eighth straight victory in playoff elimination games played at home. They’ll need a road win now to stay alive.

While the Kings would undoubtedly have preferred to finish the series at the earliest possible venture, it’s hard to imagine the team will be too upset about returning to the west coast for Game 5. That doesn’t mean the team won’t be suffering a spot of trepidation.

Los Angeles knows better than any team how precarious a lead can be in the playoffs. It was this team after all that bounced back from a 3-0 deficit against the San Jose Sharks in the opening round, becoming just the fourth team in the history of the league to do so.

The Kings also know what it’s like to let a 3-0 lead slip. During the 2012 Stanley Cup Finals, the Kings led the New Jersey Devils 3-0, only to be forced to a Game 6. One more loss and the side faces that same predicament, and at 3-2, anything can happen.

So, for the Californian side, winning Game 5 at home takes on a whole other level of importance. History doesn’t necessarily favor the Kings to pick up that win though.

Since 1939, the team leading a Stanley Cup Finals series 3-1 is just 17-14 in Game 5. The Rangers can take inspiration from that statistic while the Kings should heed warning.

Sutter will look for more of the same from his side, which looked offensive sharp but suffered a truckload of unluckiness in Game 4. Offensive pressure will be paramount while Quick will be expected to take care of business in net.

The Rangers will look to find ways to keep the Kings out of sync, and ways to quieten what will likely be a raucous crowd at Staples Center. Lundqvist will need to be at his best, while the offense in front of him will need to be better than it has been.

For neutrals, a win for the Rangers would be only fitting for a postseason that has been marvelous. In fact, only a seven-game series would supply a justifiable conclusion to what has been the best postseason (in any sport) in recent years. Fingers crossed.

With 40 saves, Henrik Lundqvist was the star of Game 4. Can he do it again on Friday?

With 40 saves, Henrik Lundqvist was the star of Game 4. Can he do it again on Friday?

New York Rangers vs. Los Angeles Kings odds for 06/13/2014

With the series returning to the west coast, Los Angeles (-170) opened as the favorite over New York (+154) on the moneyline.

The Kings have won four of the last five head-to-head meetings between the sides at Staples Center, including Games 1 and 2 of this series.

In their previous two finals appearances, the Kings are 0-2 in Game 5. The Rangers are 4-3, but haven’t won since 1972.

The over/under opened at 5.

Wednesday’s Game 4 saw the total go under for the second straight game.

Four of the last six head-to-head meetings between the sides have now seen the total go under, but before you place your stake, here’s something worth considering…

The Kings haven’t seen the under pay out in three consecutive games all postseason. In fact, the Californian side only experienced three instances during the regular season in which the total went under in three straight games. The over then may represent the smarter bet.

If the Rangers can survive a second straight elimination game, the series will return to New York and Madison Square Garden for Game 6 on Monday night (8:00 p.m. ET).

For a selection of NHL team prop bets, click here.

For a selection of NHL player prop bets, click here.

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