LOS ANGELES – A two-goal lead just isn't enough against these Los Angeles Kings.
Even three two-goal leads.
The New York Rangers led 2-0, as they had in Game 1, then were up 3-1. They also led 4-2 in the third period, but wound up losing again, 5-4 in double overtime, Saturday night to fall behind 2-0 in the best-of-seven Stanley Cup Final.
The Kings won for the fourth time in these playoffs after trailing by two goals, including Game 1 of this series, when Dustin Brown redirected a blast by Willie Mitchell 10:26 into the second overtime period.
What were the Kings thinking when they were down by two goals again?
"We were thinking, 'We're gonna rope-a-dope 'em again,' " said Mitchell, laughing. "No, actually, that wasn't what we were thinking at all."
Actually, what the Kings were thinking afterward was that it's nice to be up 2-0 heading for New York for Game 3, but it's not nice how they find themselves falling behind every game.
"We're not happy with the way we've started these two games at all," said Mitchell, a defensive stalwart who made rare offensive contributions Saturday — a goal and an assist. "We haven't executed well in the first half of these games. It baffles all of us."
But they keep finding ways out of deep holes. They trailed their opening series against the San Jose Sharks 3-0. They trailed their series against the Anaheim Ducks 3-2. They won Game 7 of their epic Western Conference Final against the Chicago Blackhawks – in overtime, on the road — after trailing 2-0 in the first period.
"We get more of a sense of urgency," Kings leading scorer Anze Kopitar said of how the team reacts to falling behind. "But we have some room to improve. Obviously, we're going to have to."
The Kings again got tremendous offensive balance — five different goal scorers, including a playoff-leading 13th by Marian Gaborik, and three assists from Game 1 hero Justin Williams.
And again, they had a number of defensive lapses that led to the Rangers getting some easy chances against Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick. The goals came from Ryan McDonagh and Mats Zuccarello in a first period that the Rangers pretty much dominated. They got second-period goals from Martin St. Louis and Derick Brassard.
But then, despite a number of good chances, they failed to score in the third or in overtime.
"We've played close to nine periods in these two games, and for the most part I've liked a lot of our games," said Rangers coach Alain Vigneault. "We just didn't get it done."
At times, the Kings didn't get it done, either. They admitted afterward they are winning these games by a very thin margin and in a manner that could see the momentum in the series switch drastically as the locale changes to Madison Square Garden.
But Brown, the team captain, thinks the Kings will improve.
"I'm confident in our group that we can sort it out and figure it out. It's just a matter of resetting, reloading and dialing it in for Game 3."
Then again, if it's 2-0 Rangers early in Game 3, that might be OK, too.