Rangers force Game 5, stave off sweep

IRA PODELL AP Sports Writer Published:

NEW YORK -- Benoit Pouliot and Martin St. Louis gave the New York Rangers a two-goal lead they hope will keep the team alive in the Stanley Cup finals.

Pouliot scored 7:25 into the first period and Martin St. Louis added a goal in the second to give the Rangers a 2-1 lead Wednesday that stayed true and allowed the Rangers to stave off a sweep by the Los Angeles Kings in Game 4.

The win forces a Game 5 on Friday at 8 p.m. on Friday.

The Kings won the first two games at home in overtime in building their 3-0 series lead and are trying to become the first team to complete a sweep in the finals since Detroit did it to Washington in 1998.

Two nights after Jonathan Quick made 32 saves in a 3-0 victory that put the Kings on the brink of their second title in three years, Pouliot got a puck past him.

St. Louis then put in a rebound at the left post 6:27 into the second, giving the Rangers their fifth two-goal lead of the series. But just like in Games 1 and 2, a two-goal deficit sparked the Kings.

At the tail end of a Rangers power play, New York defenseman Dan Girardi broke his stick and lost the puck to Kings captain Dustin Brown for a breakaway the other way.

Brown made several moves in front of Henrik Lundqvist before tucking a forehand inside the right post to make it 2-1 with 11:13 left in the second.

The Kings had a chance to get even, but the Rangers killed Dominic Moore's cross-checking penalty late in the period. Jeff Carter then got behind Girardi before being stopped on a breakaway by Lundqvist.

Pouliot broke Quick's shutout streak at 123 minutes, 1 second. New York hadn't scored since Derick Brassard's second-period goal in Game 2. Pouliot's fifth goal of the playoffs came 2 seconds after Kings defenseman Willie Mitchell finished serving a high-sticking penalty.

John Moore fired a drive from the center of the blue line that Pouliot deflected high with his stick blade into the top right corner behind Quick.

The Kings almost tied it at 1-1 with 8:11 left -- seconds into a power play -- when defenseman Alec Martinez's shot got behind Lundqvist and slid along the red goal line without crossing it. Rangers defenseman Anton Stralman cleared the puck away as Jeff Carter and Marian Gaborik pressured in the crease.

Video replay clearly showed that the puck didn't go over the line.

Madison Square Garden had a different feel than the festive atmosphere of Game 3 when the Rangers returned home from Los Angeles. There were no t-shirts draped over the seats, and some of the seats in prime-viewing areas were empty. But as the Rangers started to score, the crowd slowly came alive, roaring in approval.

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