LOS ANGELES (AP) — The comeback Kings did it again in the Stanley Cup finals, and this one was doubly impressive.
Captain Dustin Brown redirected Willie Mitchell’s shot 10:26 into the second overtime, and the Los Angeles Kings outlasted the New York Rangers 5-4 Saturday night to take a 2-0 series lead.
Marian Gaborik tied it with 12:24 left in regulation for the Kings, who rallied from another two-goal deficit in their latest exhibition of clutch comeback hockey.
Rallying from a two-goal deficit for the fourth time in their past five games, they still moved halfway to a series victory and their second Stanley Cup championship in three years.
“It’s not the place we want to be, to have to climb out all the time,” said Mitchell, who also scored his first playoff goal in more than two years.
“Sooner or later, it is going to bite you. I guess that’s the great part about it is we find a way to battle back. We’ve got some work to do again.”
Game 3 is Monday night at Madison Square Garden.
In their third straight overtime game, the Kings traded scoring chances with New York in two nail-biting overtime periods before Mitchell teed up a long shot.
Brown deflected it under Henrik Lundqvist’s glove arm, ending the longest finals game in Rangers history and nearly the longest playoff game in Kings history.
“You want to create what we call noise there,” Mitchell said. “Hank plays so deep in his net, and if you can get some traffic and throw some pucks at the net when a guy plays deep like that, sometimes you’re lucky enough to get one past a world-class goalie.”
The Kings are making their own remarkable brand of noise, all right. They haven’t led during any of their past three games, going to overtime each night, but they still finished off Chicago in the Western Conference finals and took a big series lead on the Rangers, who twice fell agonizingly short.
“When you play five periods, the difference is not very big between winning and losing,” Lundqvist said. “We came up short, and now we have to go back to New York and turn this thing around.”
Lundqvist made 39 saves for New York, and Jonathan Quick had 34 for Los Angeles. Both goalies made a handful of stellar overtime stops.
Lundqvist and the Rangers were furious about Los Angeles’ third goal. Dwight King got the comeback rolling when Matt Greene’s slap shot hit him and went in while King fell on top of Lundqvist, who thought an interference penalty should have been called.
“I’m extremely disappointed on that call — or non-call,” Lundqvist said. “I mean, they’ve got to be consistent with that rule. … They score a goal, and I can’t even move. It’s extremely frustrating for them to get life like that. After that, it’s a different game.”
Jarret Stoll also scored for the Kings, who made up for a mistake-filled performance with their usual big finish.
Mats Zuccarello and Derick Brassard had a goal and an assist apiece for the Rangers, who had three two-goal leads in Game 2. Ryan McDonagh and Martin St. Louis also scored, but New York couldn’t finish another strong effort.
The Rangers are heading home in a big hole in their quest for their first Stanley Cup title in 20 years. But despite their propensity for blowing leads, they’ve also proven this series won’t be a walkover for the deep, experienced Kings.
After testing the Kings throughout the opener, New York played its smart, counterattacking style to great effect in Game 2, only to fall victim to another momentum-draining comeback.
The Kings fell behind 2-0 in the first period for the second straight game, and they trailed 4-2 entering the third period before King’s disputed goal. McDonagh then gave the puck to Gaborik in front, and the Kings’ late-season acquisition beat Lundqvist for his 13th goal of a phenomenal postseason.
Neither team played cautiously in overtime, trading good scoring chances and three fruitless power plays in the first extra period. King nearly ended it with a short-handed one-timer, and Chris Kreider failed to score on a breakaway.
After blowing a 2-0 lead in the opener, New York had three different two-goal leads in Game 2. The Kings still came roaring back.
McDonagh scored on a long slap shot and assisted on Zuccarello’s tap-in goal in the first period, quieting the Los Angeles crowd. Stoll scored on a broken play early in the second after King jumped on Brad Richards’ turnover, but St. Louis answered with his first goal of the finals on a power play.
Mitchell exemplified the Kings’ inconsistency during an 11-second stretch of the second period. Right after the veteran defenseman trimmed the lead to 3-2 with his first playoff goal since April 11, 2012, he whiffed on the puck behind Los Angeles’ net, allowing Zuccarello to pass to Brassard for a score.
Los Angeles rallied with a fortunate bounce off King, although the Rangers wanted an interference penalty on the bruising forward, who was tussling with McDonagh when he fell on Lundqvist.
NOTES: D John Moore returned to New York’s lineup after his two-game suspension for a hit to the head of Montreal’s Dale Weise during the Eastern Conference finals. Raphael Diaz was scratched. … Los Angeles scratched D Robyn Regehr for the 15th consecutive game. Regehr appears to be fully recovered from his knee injury in Game 1 of the second round against Anaheim on May 3, but the Kings stuck with Greene. … Britney Spears, Jimmy Kimmel, Gene Simmons and Steve Nash attended the game.
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