The Kings’ opponent last round argued when trailing, 3-1, in the series that there was more pressure on Los Angeles to end things, a scoffed-at contention until the Chicago Blackhawks rallied to win two games, then led by two goals in Game 7.
The New York Rangers, who staved off elimination with a 2-1 victory in Game 4 on Wednesday at Madison Square Garden, understand the Chicago argument.
“We were leading, 3-1, against Montreal, went to Game 5 in their building and our mind-set was, ‘We’re going to the Staple Cup Final,' " Rangers center Derick Brassard said.
The Rangers lost that game, 7-4, in Montreal before winning the series with a shutout in Game 6.
"You think about the outcome of the game instead of playing the game the right way … the mind-set is totally different,” Brassard said. “The pressure is on them to close out the series, and we feel the way we’ve played [taking the first two games to overtime] that the series doesn’t reflect 3-1.”
New York’s swagger about coming back is bolstered by its 5-0 record in elimination games this postseason. Goalie Henrik Lundqvist stopped 40 shots in Game 4 to improve his elimination-game record since 2012 to 11-2.
“They’re probably thinking about celebrating with their fans,” Brassard said of the Kings. “If they have to come back to our building … .”
“We have to stay confident, play hard, fast, defend first and not let those little plays slip away against us,” McDonagh said.
He stopped far short of saying there was less pressure on the Rangers.
“We’ve got plenty of pressure on us,” McDonagh said. “We know if we’re not ready to perform, they’re going to capitalize, so we’ve got to be focused.”
Rangers Coach Alain Vigneault joked Friday he was “sure” Friday the 13th would go down as a “good day” for his team.
“We need to focus on tonight,” Vigneault said. “We know that we can play better than we did last game. We're going to have to. We've played well in this building. We've played real well on the road. We need to put our best game on the ice tonight.”