LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Kings are affectionately called the Los Angeles Cockroaches by some players and fans because they refuse to die. On Wednesday night at Staples Center, the Kings again showed uncanny resiliency when they overcame a 2-0 deficit and stormed back to defeat the New York Rangers 3-2 in overtime in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final.
Justin Williams scored the decisive goal 4:36 into the extra period after Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi stumbled to his knees in his own zone and gave away the puck. Williams, a playoff scoring specialist, has 14 points in seven Game 7s.
Kyle Clifford had a goal and an assist for Los Angeles, and Drew Doughty made up for an early mistake by scoring the tying goal in the second period as the Kings came charging back from yet another early deficit in a postseason full of comebacks. Jonathan Quick made 25 saves as the Kings moved one victory closer to their second Stanley Cup title in three years.
“It certainly helps that we’ve done it time and time again,” Williams said. “It’s a great result of the hockey game for us, definitely, but we have a lot of things to clean up. Certainly not our best game by any standards, especially ours, but we were able to get it done. That’s the most important thing.”
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Game 2 is Saturday in L.A.
Williams’ goal came on likely the Kings’ cleanest scoring chance of the night. Left alone in the slot after Girardi’s pass from his knees went straight to Mike Richards, Williams put his eighth goal of the postseason past Henrik Lundqvist, who made 40 saves.
“There’s a handful of guys who raise their game this time of year,” Kings defenseman Willie Mitchell said of Williams. “He’s one of them, and we’re lucky to have him. … I want him to be Mr. Game 1, 2, 3 and 4. We need four wins.”
Los Angeles outshot New York 20-3 in the third period, becoming the first team to get 20 shots in a finals period in 16 years. The Kings also got a power play with 1:36 left, setting up a wild finish to regulation.
Benoit Pouliot scored on a breakaway and Carl Hagelin got a short-handed goal in the first, but the Rangers spent much of the final two periods on their heels.
“Not quite sure what happened there in the third,” Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. “Not sure if it was them being that good, or us stopping moving the puck and skating 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.”