Los Angeles, CA (SportsNetwork.com) - Thanks to an even-strength score from Benoit Pouliot and a short-handed tally by Carl Hagelin within a span of 1:42, the New York Rangers hold a 2-1 edge over the Los Angeles Kings after 20 minutes of play in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals.
The Rangers showed in the opening shifts how much better rested they were than the Kings, zipping through the offensive zone with little resistance. However, the hosts had the best early chance as, just over five minutes in, Jake Muzzin pushed a bouncing shot from the high slot just wide of the left post.
Jonathan Quick had to move inside his crease to stop consecutive chances from the right side by Brad Richards and in front from Martin St. Louis near the midway point of the first, but the saves came at a cost.
New York, which operated at just 1-for-16 efficiency coming into the final round, gained the first power-play chance when L.A. defenseman Alec Martinez was called for hooking at the 9:12 mark during the previous sequence. The best chance on that advantage came late, when Mats Zuccarello tried a stuffer at the right post, but Quick turned it away.
Pouliot eventually put the visitors ahead with 6:39 remaining. He was aggressive on the forecheck as the puck floated back to Kings blueliner Drew Doughty near the point. Pouliot then pushed it ahead into the neutral zone, raced up the right wing alone and beat Quick with a hard wrister.
Quick stopped a prime chance from New York's Brian Boyle seconds into the initial Kings' power play as Zuccarello committed a holding infraction, then Hagelin barreled in for a shot which Quick turned aside. The rebound caromed off the skate of Slava Voynov and back over the goal line for a 2-0 Rangers' edge at 15:03.
Kyle Clifford finally jolted the partisan crowd awake when he charged the net at the left post and redirected a Jeff Carter centering feed home with 2:27 left before intermission.
Henrik Lundqvist stopped 13 shots, while Quick made 11 saves.