Stanley Cup Final: Rangers avoid sweep thanks to Henrik Lundqvist, pile of snow

Bruce Bennett

The New York Rangers have a pile of snow to thank for their season being extended for at least one more game.

Whatever bounces or breaks you thought the New York Rangers were not getting over the first three games of the Stanley Cup Final, they found a way to get all of them in Game 4.

In what might have been their worst performance of the series, the Rangers found a way to avoid elimination and send the series back to Los Angeles for Game 5 with a 2-1 win on Wednesday night. The one Rangers player that actually managed to play his best game of the series goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, stopping 40 of the 41 shots he faced as the rest of his teammates put it into cruise control after jumping out to another two-goal lead.

And they very nearly let another one slip away.

Even with Lundqvist's efforts, the Rangers were still inches away from watching the Kings celebrate with the Cup on the Madison Square Garden ice. Had it not been for the stick of Anton Stralman keeping a rolling puck out of the net in the second period, and a pile of snow doing the same thing in the final minute of regulation, it's quite possible that the Stanley Cup would have been making an appearance.

If nothing else, the game was this close to the third overtime of the series.

Puckstop

And that's why goalies like a pile of snow in their crease and never let anybody clean them during stoppages. For that one time where it actually builds up enough that it can literally stop a puck from sliding across the goal line in a Stanley Cup Final game.

You may never see something like that again, and it's enough to keep the Rangers' season going for at least one more game. If the Rangers are going to get back in this thing and make it a series, they're going to need more games like this from Lundqvist. Even though he hasn't played his best hockey so far in the series, if there is a goalie in the league that is capable of putting together the type of stretch the Rangers are going to need, Lundqvist is most definitely it.

And we started to see it at times on Wednesday. When he wasn't getting saved by his teammates or snow, he was taking care of business himself and single-handedly keeping the Kings off the board. The only goal he allowed came on a Dustin Brown breakaway after Dan Girardi broke his stick at the blue line.

He was facing a barrage of rubber the entire night, especially after the Rangers scored their second goal. After Martin St. Louis scored to give the Rangers a 2-0 lead, they managed just 17 unblocked shot attempts for the remainder of the game. Los Angeles had 32 and seemed to take up residence in the New York end of the ice, as well as in Lundqvist's crease.

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None of it mattered though. He was a wall in net and kept making big save after big save, with perhaps none being bigger than the last-minute stop he had on Jeff Carter with 1:15 to play in the second period.  Cartersave

Who knows, maybe this is simply a case of too little, too late for the Rangers.

But with the way this postseason has gone nothing seems to be off the table as far as comebacks are concerned. Before they can win four they just needed to find a way to win one.

It may not have been a masterpiece, but they got the job done in Game 4.

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