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September 23, 2017

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Kings beat Rangers in Stanley Cup opener

LOS ANGELES -- Justin Williams netted the overtime game winner on Wednesday, giving the Los Angeles Kings a 3-2 triumph over the New York Rangers in game one of the Stanley Cup finals.

The Kings battled back from an early two-goal deficit, and Williams sealed the win 4:35 into overtime to give the Kings a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven NHL championship series.

Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi tried to stick-handle his way out of his zone on the right wing, but didn't control the puck.

Mike Richards turned around and pushed the puck forward to Williams, who was left alone in the slot.

He beat Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist for his first overtime goal in a playoff game.

"Richards made a great play getting the puck out," Williams said. "We screwed up a three-on-two royally. Fortunately for us, one of their 'D' men was following, I was sitting in front of the net with the puck, I was able to make a shot."

Lundqvist took a tough loss after stopping 40-of-43 shots — including all 20 he faced in the third period.

His opposite number Jonathan Quick made 25 saves for the Kings, who host game two on Saturday.

The two teams were tied at 2-2 after two periods and neither scored in the third.

Drew Doughty netted the equalizer for the Kings at 6:36 of the second on a shot from the left circle, which hit the net after going through the crook of Lundqvist's arm.

Kyle Clifford netted the Kings' first goal when he redirected a Jeff Carter centering pass with 2:27 left in the first.

The well-rested Rangers, who completed their Eastern Conference finals win over Montreal last Thursday, had taken a 2-0 lead with goals from Benoit Pouliot Carl Hagelin.

Williams, who notched his second game-winning goal of this post-season, said the Kings were able to draw on the knowledge that they had erased an early deficit in their game-seven Western Conference finals win over Chicago on Sunday.

But it would be better not to put themselves in the hole.

"It's a great result of the hockey game for us, definitely, but we have a lot of things to clean up," he said.

A Lot of Character

Doughty agreed that the Kings couldn't afford the kind of sluggish start they made Wednesday.

"That's not the way we want to start games," he said. "Showed a lot of character to come back. We're happy about that. We're not happy about the start, but we're happy we showed the confidence to come back and win the game still."

Los Angeles are seeking to add a second Stanley Cup crown to the one they captured in 2012.

Clifford, who also came up big on defense and contributed an assist, scored his first goal of the playoffs at 17:33 of the first, after forcing a turnover in the Rangers zone by New York center Derek Stepan.

Doughty's goal also involved Clifford, who sent Williams into the right side of the Rangers zone with a long pass. Williams curved back and fed Doughty with a backhand pass.

Doughty put the puck through his legs to avoid the outstretched stick of Rangers forward Derek Dorsett and beat Lundqvist.

Pouliot opened the scoring on a breakaway at 13:21 of the first.

Hagelin made it 2-0 for the Rangers when he scored a shorthanded goal at 15:03.

"I liked the way we played in the first two periods," said Rangers coach Alain Vigneault. "They definitely took it to us in the third and they were able to get a bounce on the winning goal and put it in the back of the net.

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