New York being what it is, and bandwagons being what they are, there sure was a lot of noise around here that the Rangers turned some sort of corner in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final when they beat the Los Angeles Kings 2-1.
That they now might actually pull off something that has happened only once, and not in the last 72 years.
Whoa. Whoa. Not so fast.
The Rangers accomplished one thing on Wednesday night, and it's the same thing they need to accomplish in Game 5 Friday — survive.
"There's so much work to be done here, we're just looking at the next game as a great challenge for us," goaltender Henrik Lundqvist said.
It is all the Rangers can do in a series that has been so fabulous to watch — unless you root for one of the teams; then it's been fabulous only if you enjoy hearing and feeling your heart thump.
It's been a series that's difficult to explain, where Los Angeles won two games in which it never led, where you could argue that the worse team won a few of the games, and a series that might set the unofficial Stanley Cup record for "puck luck." The series could be tied 2-2, and either team could even be up 3-1. The Kings are.
The Rangers' 2-1 win was probably their worst game of the series, at least the second half of it was. At best, it wasn't their best. Not was it L.A.'s best, and the Kings sure threatened to win it, with a 15-1 shot advantage in the third period, with a shot off the crossbar and two pucks that miraculously stopped in the accumulated snow on the goal line.
"In (Game 3) we outshot them two to one and we lost the game," said Martin St. Louis, who scored his eight goal of the playoffs, the game winner, Wednesday. "(In Game 4) they outshoot us two to one and they lose the game. It's about finding ways and we did that. We keep the series alive and we'll travel to L.A. for Game 5 and bring it back here. That's our goal.
"We didn't play a perfect game, but we found a way."
The Rangers arrived in Los Angeles late Thursday and practiced in the evening. They have a lot to fix, still, and not a lot of time to fix it; and not many player moves they could possibly make. Coach Alain Vigneault, who juggled three of his lines, normally doesn't change much after wins, anyway.
"It's about competing," Lundqvist, who is 11-2 with a 1.30 goals-against average and .959 save percentage in his last 13 elimination games, said. "When everything is on the line, you just have to challenge yourself the right way, I guess, as a team and personally. You have to go out there and leave everything out there and be extremely focused.
"One mistake and the season is over. You're definitely aware of that. When you go out to these type of games where, you know, you know everything can be over after this period or after the next two periods.
You try even harder to be focused and making the right decisions out there. It's exciting, though."
Defenseman Dan Girardi was thrilled to get out of Game 4 for a few reasons. He broke his stick and was beaten for Los Angeles' only goal, on a breakaway by Dustin Brown, and has just had some of the worst luck and, to be fair, has committed some terrible turnovers in the series, including the game-loser in overtime in Game 1.
"I've never been so happy to have a long flight and a time change," Girardi said.
That's all they got Wednesday. They need to be sure that they have another game remaining after the next long flight and the next time change.
Then, maybe after Game 6, they can start to think about the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs, the only team in Cup Final history to come back from 0-3.
Rick Carpiniello writes for the (Westchester County, N.Y.) Journal News
PHOTOS: Stanley Cup Final