New York, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - Facing the team they defeated for the Stanley Cup last spring, the Los Angeles Kings rediscovered their championship form to shut down the NHL's hottest club.
Jonathan Quick led a strong all-around effort with 34 saves and the Kings got another needed boost to their playoff chances by putting together an impressive 4-2 decision over the New York Rangers.
Los Angeles entered this season-high five-game road trip on the outside of the Western Conference playoff standings, but has since drawn even with Calgary for third place in the Pacific Division following Tuesday's result and Monday's 3-1 verdict over New Jersey.
"It does seem like we do play good hockey when our backs are against the wall," said Kings center Anze Kopitar. "We dug ourselves a hole, so we've gotta climb out of it."
The Kings were able to gain ground by outplaying the Rangers on both ends on the ice to deal New York just its second loss in nine games. The Blueshirts had allowed two goals or fewer in their last 10 outings, a streak that was put to an end on scores by Marian Gaborik, Jeff Carter, Robyn Regehr and Jake Muzzin.
"Our execution wasn't what it needed to be against such a strong opponent, and we paid the price for it," Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault said.
Quick shook off a goal by Mats Zuccarello in the opening minute and Kopitar added a pair of assists to help the Kings down a Rangers squad coming off a season-high scoring output in Sunday's 7-2 rout of Pacific-leading Anaheim.
Kevin Hayes accounted for New York's other goal and Cam Talbot finished with 31 saves.
The Rangers picked up right where they left off on Sunday by scoring on their first shot -- Zuccarello's well-placed wrister over Quick's shoulder set up by teammate J.T. Miller winning a puck battle in the Kings' end -- to move ahead a mere 51 seconds in.
Hayes was able to beat Quick on a drive that redirected off Los Angeles center Mike Richards with 3:44 left to play. In between those two goals, however, the Kings were in complete control.
Talbot briefly kept it a 1-0 game by denying Trevor Lewis from point-blank range midway through the first period. A minute later, though, the Rangers netminder was handcuffed by a puck flung towards the net by Regehr that appeared to hit New York defenseman Keith Yandle and change direction.
Los Angeles, which put up 17 first-period shots, continued to apply pressure early in the second. Justin Williams intercepted a clearing attempt from Talbot and dropped a pass to Kopitar, who sent the puck to Gaborik without hesitation for the ex-Ranger to bury into an opening with 4:35 elapsed in the stanza.
"At points during the game, we controlled the game, just the zone time," Kings coach Darryl Sutter said. "We're good at that. That's what our team does. You don't always get rewarded for that, but tonight we did."
Carter put New York down by two when the veteran sniper raced to the net to tip in Dwight King's on-target centering feed just 65 seconds into the third period. It was 4-1 at the 5:28 mark of the frame after Muzzin one-timed a wraparound give from Kopitar into the top right corner of the New York net.
Those goals came on two of the Kings' four shots for the final period.
The loss was only the Rangers' third (11-2-1) in 14 games against Pacific Division teams this season ... Kopitar now has 11 assists and 14 points over his last 11 games. The Kings are 11-1-3 this season when he records a multi- point effort ... The Rangers' 10-game streak of yielding two goals or less was the franchise's longest since a 12-game run from Feb. 20-Mar. 18, 1971 ... New York won the first matchup between the clubs since last year's Stanley Cup Finals, a 4-3 triumph in Los Angeles on Jan. 8.