Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - When hockey teams show a talent for coming back there is usually a sense that constantly falling behind is going to catch up with them at some point.
Raise your hand if you believe that to be true about the 2014 Los Angeles Kings. If you put your hand in the air, there's a good chance you play for the New York Rangers.
After all, the Rangers must have faith the Kings "luck" is about to run out if they have any chance of coming back to win the Stanley Cup. Outside of New York's locker room, however, there can't be many people left in the world who actually expect Los Angeles' penchant for comebacks to come back and haunt them.
Despite never actually playing with a lead so far in the Stanley Cup Finals, the Kings are heading to New York with a 2-0 cushion over the Rangers. Just like San Jose, Anaheim and Chicago already found out this postseason, New York is learning just how difficult it is to finish off these Kings.
Now, for New York to stop Los Angeles from lifting the Cup for the second time in three seasons, the Rangers somehow have to find a way to win four of the next five games. That's a difficult feat to pull off in the Stanley Cup Finals against any team. Against the Kings it has to seem downright impossible.
L.A. has proven itself so adept at avoiding elimination this postseason, some folks have dubbed Darryl Sutter's club the "Cockroach Kings." Even the notoriously hardy insects may not be better equipped to survive the apocalypse than these Kings.
After coming back from a 2-0 deficit in Game 1 to claim a 3-2 overtime decision, the Kings taught us another lesson in resiliency in Saturday's second meeting. New York held leads of 2-0, 3-1 and 4-2 in Game 2, but the final count read 5-4 Kings. The only difference in Saturday's battle was it took L.A. two overtime periods to finish off the Rangers.
The frustration has to be mounting for New York, which has held a lead for just over 50 minutes in this series while the Kings' advantages can only be seen by glancing at the final scoresheet for both games.
L.A.'s latest victory did come with a bit of controversy, as the Rangers, and in particular the club's star goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, questioned the legitimacy of the Kings' third goal of the evening.
New York carried a 4-2 edge into the final period of regulation only to see L.A. slice its deficit in half within the first two minutes of the third stanza. Dwight King was credited with the goal after Matt Greene sent a blast on net from the right point, but immediately after the goal Lundqvist was noticeably upset that there was no call for goaltender interference.
King and Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh were jostling for position at the front of the crease when the L.A. forward fell into Lundqvist and prevented him from making a play on the puck. Certainly players have been called for interference before on similar plays, but it was by no means an obvious infraction. Of course, Lundqvist, or any goaltender in the same situation, wants the benefit of the call when contact prevents him from getting a clear shot at making a save, but without the ability to review the play, the officials have to make a snap judgement.
In this particular case, the referees explanation didn't pass muster with New York's No. 1 netminder. After initially pleading his case with the officials following the goal, Lundqvist had another chance to discuss the play with referee Dan O'Halloran when Rangers coach Alain Vigneault called his timeout at the 6:54 mark of the third.
Needless to say, the Swedish backstop was not impressed with the explanation.
"(The ref) said the puck had already passed me. I don't buy it," Lundqvist said after the game. "That's a wrist shot, that I'm just going to reach out for and I can't move. It's a different game after that. It's such an important play in the game."
However, a mere 42 seconds after the timeout, the Kings evened the score at 4-4 when former Rangers forward Marian Gaborik scored his league-leading 13th goal of the postseason. The score remained knotted until L.A. captain Dustin Brown deflected a point shot by Willie Mitchell past Lundqvist at 10:26 of the second overtime.
It's easy to understand why Lundqvist was upset and he's right about the controversial King goal being "such an important play in the game." Still, the story of Game 2 isn't the no-call, it's the fact that New York had so many chances to bury L.A. and simply could not do it.
As far as the Kings' playing with fire when it comes to falling behind early in games, it doesn't seem to bother L.A. Saturday's victory was the club's fifth multi-point comeback in the 2014 playoffs, and their third in a row dating back to a 5-4 OT win over the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 7 of the Western Conference finals.
Of course, you won't hear the Kings say they aren't concerned about how they've started games recently, but it's pretty clear by the way they play from behind that it's not a huge concern.
"We haven't executed well in the first half of games," said Mitchell. "It baffles everyone in here. It's not a place we want to be in to have to climb out of all the time."
The Kings may not want to claw their way out of a hole every night, but it has to be a good feeling to know they can.
The Rangers, meanwhile, have to find a way to not only continue grabbing the early lead, but also how to keep it. If they can't succeed where other teams this spring have failed, nothing can keep the Kings from wearing the NHL crown once more.