NEW YORK — The champagne the Los Angeles Kings had ready for a coronation stayed in boxes. The New York Rangers suddenly have some life in the Stanley Cup finals.
Henrik Lundqvist made 40 saves and had the Madison Square Garden crowd chanting his name in the Rangers’ 2-1 victory in Game 4 that kept the Los Angeles Kings from a sweep on Wednesday night.
Benoit Pouliot and Martin St. Louis each scored for the Rangers. Los Angeles leads the series 3-1 and will get its second shot to claim the Cup for the second time in three years Friday night at home.
“We wanted to close it out tonight and we weren’t able to do it,” Kings forward Anze Kopitar said. “Now we have a desperate team coming into our building.”
Los Angeles hoped to become the first team since 1998 to complete a sweep in the finals. The Rangers will try to be the second team to erase a 3-0 hole in the finals and go on to win the Cup.
The Kings had that kind of comeback in the first round against San Jose.
“It’s not impossible,” Lundqvist said.
Twice Los Angeles put the puck on the goal line, but couldn’t get it all the way across. The last came with 1:11 left when Rangers forward Derek Stepan pushed the puck out of danger in the crease after it got behind Lundqvist.
“I was just holding my breath,” Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi said. “All those guys in the crease did a great job to keep it out.”
Pouliot scored 7:25 into the first period and St. Louis added a goal in the second. New York squandered multiple two-goal advantages in losing the first two games in overtime in Los Angeles.
Not this time.
Lundqvist and the Rangers continued their mastery of extending their seasons. New York is 11-2 in the past 13 games when facing elimination, and Lundqvist was in goal for all of them.
“When everything is on the line, you just have to challenge yourself the right way,” Lundqvist said. “You have to be focused. One mistake and the season is over. You’re definitely aware of that.”
The Rangers also have won an NHL-record eight consecutive home games when facing elimination, dating to 2008, behind Lundqvist.
“We got our first one,” St. Louis said, “and I’m sure that’s going to help our mood.”