(Photo: Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports)
“I liked the way we played in the first two periods,” he said. “I thought it was a hard-fought first 40 minutes by both teams.” The Rangers took a 2-0 lead in the first period on a breakaway goal by LW Benoit Pouliot at 13:21 and a shorthanded goal by LW Carl Hagelin less than two minutes later.
“[Hagelin’s] speed shorthanded was definitely a positive factor for us,” Vigneault noted. “We just need to be able to generate the same thing five on five.” Hagelin would later earn the third star of the game for his efforts.
The Rangers went into the first intermission up 2-1 after LA Kings LW Kyle Clifford scored with 2:27 left in the period. Kings D Drew Doughty then put in the equalizer 6:36 into the second period for what would be the final goal in regulation.
The third period was all LA.
“Not quite sure what happened there in the third. Not sure if it was them being that good or us stopping moving the puck and going north/south. They definitely took it to us in the third, and they were able to get a bounce on the winning goal and put it in the back of the net.”
Despite the Kings’ momentum in the third period, the aforementioned winning goal didn’t come until overtime. Kings RW Justin Williams–“Mr. Game 7”–became “Mr. Game 1” and was able to put the puck past Rangers G Henrik Lundqvist at 4:36 into the extra period.
“[Lundqvist] was the reason why we went into overtime…he gave us a chance,” said Vigneault. “When you get to overtime, a lot of times it’s a bounce, it’s a shot. Tonight [the Kings] got it.”
Vigneault plans to use the next 48 to “make some adjustments” before Game 2 on Saturday as the Rangers and Kings return to the Staples Center for a 4pm (7pm ET) puck drop.