NEW YORK (AP) — Even in the second round, when the New York Rangers had to rally from a 3-1 deficit against the high-powered Pittsburgh Penguins to reach the Eastern Conference finals, they never found themselves this far behind this early in a series.
Down 2-0, and almost down and out before they even got home to Madison Square Garden.
That is the hole the Rangers are in after a pair of overtime losses in Los Angeles to the Kings. The outcomes would have been bad enough for the Broadway Blueshirts in their first finals appearance since winning the Cup 20 years ago, but how they lost only adds to their disappointment.
The Rangers led 2-0 in the first period of both games, and they were up by two goals three times in Game 2 — including a 4-2 edge heading into the third period Saturday night. New York was 10-0 in the postseason when holding the lead after 40 minutes.
That loss has the Rangers on the brink of a quick exit unless they can turn things around in a hurry Monday in Game 3.
"Our guys are going to be real focused," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said Sunday after the team's cross-country flight home to New York. "We need to hold serve. We're back in our building. We've played some good hockey. We might feel that we deserve a better outcome than what we have right now, which is trailing by two games, but it doesn't matter.
"We've got to take care of business (Monday), and that's what we're going to do. We've got to win."
The Kings aren't thrilled that they were forced to erase two-goal leads in three straight games to win in overtime, dating to their victory in Game 7 of the Western Conference finals at Chicago.