NEW YORK (Reuters) - The giant-killing Los Angeles Kings continued their fairytale playoff run on Monday to take a 2-0 lead over St Louis in the West, as Alexander Ovechkin quashed a fierce fightback to square the Washington Capitals’ series with the New York Rangers.
The Kings set up dominant 5-2 road victory with a stunning four-goal blitz in the first period inspired by Anze Kopitar to suck the life out of the St Louis crowd.
“We were moving the puck early and shooting,” Kopitar told reporters after his two-goal effort in the first period.
“Any time you get the chance, you want to put the puck on the net. It gave us a jump start for sure.”
The eighth-seeded Kings, having already upset top seed Vancouver in the first round, now head home for Games Three and Four and a chance to sweep their more-fancied opponents. Game Three is on Thursday.
Mike Richards and Jeff Carter also scored goals in the first period rout, which allowed the Kings to cruise to the finish.
Andy McDonald pegged one back for St Louis early in the second period but Justin Williams responded with another for the Kings. Blues winger Matt D‘Agostini netted St Louis’ second in the third.
St. Louis are now 0-for-12 on power-plays for the series and were jeered by sections of the crowd after failing to convert a 5-on-3 chance in the third period.
In the Eastern Conference, the Capitals survived a ferocious fightback from New York to beat the Rangers 3-2 and tie their second round best-of-seven series at 1-1.
The Rangers gave up two early goals but threatened to steal an improbable victory after leveling at 2-2 midway through the final period.
However, the Capitals, who upset defending champions Boston in a seven-game thriller to make the Eastern Conference semi-finals, regained their composure and snatched the win with a power-play goal from Ovechkin after the Rangers gave away two successive penalties.
The Rangers also hit the post twice before Ovechkin’s goal, his third of the playoffs. Games Three and Four move from Madison Square Garden to Washington DC.
“We hit two posts last game and they hit two this time, that’s how close it is,” said Caps netminder Braden Holtby.
“The hockey gods were on our side tonight.”
Mike Knuble and Jason Chimera got the visitors off to the perfect start with goals in the first period.
The Rangers pulled one back before the first intermission when Brad Richards buried the puck in the back of the net.
New York captain Ryan Callahan tied the game at 2-2 with a power-play but the celebrations were short-lived as Ovechkin’s slapshot proved decisive.
Additional reporting by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; Editing by Ian Ransom