Update 8:19 p.m.: The champagne the Los Angeles Kings had ready for a coronation stayed in boxes. The New York Rangers suddenly have some life in the Stanley Cup finals.
Henrik Lundqvist made 40 saves and had the Madison Square Garden crowd chanting his name in the Rangers' 2-1 victory in Game 4 that kept the Los Angeles Kings from sweeping them on Wednesday night.
Benoit Pouliot and Martin St. Louis each scored for the Rangers, who kept the Kings at bay. Los Angeles leads the series 3-1 and will get its second shot to claim the Cup for the second time in three years Friday night at home.
Los Angeles hoped to become the first team since 1998 to complete a sweep in the finals. Now the Rangers will try to become the second team to erase a 3-0 hole in the finals and go on to win the Cup. The Kings had that kind of comeback in the first round against San Jose.
"It's not impossible," Lundqvist said. "They've done it."
Twice Los Angeles put the puck on the goal line, but couldn't get it all the way across. The last came with 1:11 left in the game when Rangers forward Derek Stepan pushed the puck out of danger in the crease after it got behind Lundqvist.
Pouliot scored 7:25 into the first period and St. Louis added a goal in the second for the Rangers. New York squandered multiple two-goal advantages in losing the first two games in overtime in Los Angeles.
Not this time.
Lundqvist and the Rangers continued their mastery of extending their seasons. New York is 11-2 in the past 13 games when facing elimination, and Lundqvist was in goal for all of them.
The Rangers also have won an NHL-record eight consecutive home games when facing elimination, dating to 2008, behind Lundqvist.
New York has also won a home game in 15 consecutive playoff series, tying a league mark.
The Kings pressed for the tying goal in the third period and outshot the Rangers 15-1 in the frame and 41-19 overall.
"I think we sat back a little too much in the third period. But we didn't blow the lead this time," Stepan said.
Two nights after Jonathan Quick stopped 32 shots in a 3-0 victory that put the Kings on the brink of another championship, Pouliot got a puck past him.
St. Louis then put in a rebound at the left post 6:27 into the second, giving the Rangers their fifth two-goal lead of the series. But just like in Games 1 and 2, a two-goal deficit sparked the Kings.
At the tail end of a Rangers power play, New York defenseman Dan Girardi broke his stick and lost the puck to Kings captain Dustin Brown for a breakaway the other way.
Brown made several moves in front of Lundqvist before tucking a forehand inside the right post to make it 2-1 with 11:13 left in the second.
The Kings had a chance to get even, but the Rangers killed Dominic Moore's cross-checking penalty late in the period. Jeff Carter then got behind Girardi before being stopped on a breakaway by Lundqvist.
Pouliot broke Quick's shutout streak at 123 minutes, 1 second. New York hadn't scored since Derick Brassard's second-period goal in Game 2. Pouliot's fifth goal of the playoffs came 2 seconds after Kings defenseman Willie Mitchell finished serving a high-sticking penalty.
John Moore fired a drive from the center of the blue line that Pouliot deflected high with his stick blade into the top right corner behind Quick, who finished with xx saves.
The Kings almost tied it at 1-1 with 8:11 left — seconds into a power play — when defenseman Alec Martinez's shot got behind Lundqvist and slid along the red goal line without crossing it. Rangers defenseman Anton Stralman cleared the puck away as Jeff Carter and Marian Gaborik pressured in the crease.
Video replay clearly showed that the puck didn't go over the line.
Madison Square Garden had a different feel than the festive atmosphere of Game 3 when the Rangers returned home from Los Angeles. There were no t-shirts draped over the seats, and some of the seats in prime-viewing areas were empty. But as the Rangers started to score, the crowd slowly came alive, roaring in approval.
Previously: The Los Angeles Kings know they are heading home after Game 4 of the Stanley Cup finals. They don't want to bring the New York Rangers along for the ride.
One day before their first chance at their second Stanley Cup title in three years, the Kings harkened back to a pair of series — one this year when they rallied from a 3-0 hole to eliminate San Jose in the first round, and the 2012 finals when New Jersey won two straight to force Game 6.
Los Angeles took a 3-0 lead over the Rangers with a pair of overtime wins at home and then a 3-0 victory at Madison Square Garden on Monday behind Jonathan Quick's 32-save performance.
"It wasn't easy for us to come back from 3-0 in the first series," star defenseman Drew Doughty said. "We know how it can happen. All it takes is one game, one momentum shift. The team can run with it, the other team can be down in the dumps.
"That's why this next game is so important. We can't let them back into the series."
Game 4 is Wednesday night in New York. Though Los Angeles has four chances to reclaim the Cup, notching the first finals sweep since 1998 is just how the Kings hope to do it.
"Be as desperate as before Game 3," forward Jarret Stoll said of the Kings' mindset. "We knew we needed to be a desperate team. We want to have a killer instinct and play the right way, play determined."
The Kings became the fourth NHL team to win a series after trailing 3-0. Only the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs pulled off the feat in the finals.
"They've done it, and we know we can do it," Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist said. "It's not like we've been outplayed here. They've been good, but I think we've been playing pretty good, as well. It comes down to a couple plays here and there. That's been the difference.
"It starts with your belief and it starts with how you approach this game and the games after that. They know it's possible and we know it's possible."
The Rangers got into this predicament with a significant amount of misfortune. They were ahead 2-0 in each of the first two contests, and they failed to finish the deal in Game 2 when they held three two-goal leads.
In Game 3, two of the Kings' goals bounded into the net off Rangers players. The third was scored after New York made a good defensive play, only to have the puck bounce right back to Mike Richards for a goal.
The Rangers put on a brave face Tuesday as they talked about getting back into this series, but their disappointment couldn't be concealed.
"I didn't expect my players to be cheery and upbeat," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. "We're in the Stanley Cup finals and we're down 3-0. You don't get a lot of these opportunities. Excuse us if we're not real cheery. But tomorrow I can tell you we're going to show up."
Here are five things to watch for in Game 4:
CONN SMYTHE CONTENDERS: As the Kings close in on the Stanley Cup, the Conn Smythe Trophy playoff MVP conversation is heating up. Doughty has emerged as a leading candidate. He anchors the blue line while providing plenty of offense. He scored a highlight-reel goal in Game 1 of the finals, and has notched five goals and 12 assists in the playoffs. Doughty logged 41 minutes, 41 seconds of ice time in the Kings' 5-4, double-overtime victory in Game 2.
Teammate Justin Williams is a dark horse contender. He has scored six goals, including the overtime winner in Game 1, and added 16 assists in 24 postseason games. Williams is seeking his third Stanley Cup title, having won with Los Angeles and Carolina in 2006.
"That's an award that a lot of NHLers aspire to have," Williams said of the Conn Smythe. "At the same time, when you're presented with it, I think a lot of guys just want to put it aside and look to the big jug."
SEEKING A SWEEP: While there hasn't been a sweep in the finals in 16 years, it was quite common before this drought. The last team to capture the Cup in a 4-0 romp was the Detroit Red Wings, who vanquished the Washington Capitals for their second consecutive championship and finished a run of four sweeps in a row. Detroit eliminated Philadelphia in four straight in 1997, the Colorado Avalanche took out the Florida Panthers in 1996, and New Jersey started the spurt one year earlier against Detroit.
"Being up 3-0, we're a confident group," Kings forward Jeff Carter said. "It's about going out, playing our game, executing our game plan, hopefully get the job done."
ROSTER OPTIONS: Los Angeles defenseman Robyn Regehr is still looking to make his first appearance in the finals. He has missed 16 games since May 3, when he injured his knee in the second-round opener at Anaheim. He is healthy enough to play, but Kings coach Darryl Sutter seems reluctant to shake up a roster that has built a 3-0 finals lead.
The Rangers will have Daniel Carcillo available following the rugged forward's six-game suspension. Carcillo was suspended after he appeared to twice elbow linesman Scott Driscoll, who was trying to keep Carcillo away from a fight, during Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals. His original ban of 10 games was reduced by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman.
SIMILAR SITUATION: The Kings' run to their first championship is eerily similar to their series with the Rangers. Los Angeles beat New Jersey in overtime in each of the first two finals games in 2012 and then posted a shutout in Game 3. The Devils won the next two before falling 6-1 in Game 6.
HOME-ICE ADVANTAGE? The Kings won the first two games of the finals at home, but both they and the Rangers have found plenty of success on the road. Los Angeles improved to 8-5 with its Game 3 win at New York. The Rangers are 6-6 away from Madison Square Garden after winning a franchise record 25 road games during the regular season.