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NEW YORK (Reuters) - The Los Angeles Kings returned home on Thursday with their celebration plans still on ice after the New York Rangers staved off elimination in Game Four to send the Stanley Cup Final back to the West Coast.
The Kings always knew they would be returning to California after Wednesday's Game Four but had hoped they would be doing so with a second National Hockey League title already in the bag.
But after winning the first three games of the best-of-seven final, the Kings' clinching celebration was put on hold when the Rangers edged them 2-1 in Wednesday's thriller at Madison Square Garden.
The Kings now have a chance to clinch the title on home ice in Game Five on Friday and are keen to wrap up the series and deny the Rangers a chance to get on a roll.
"We are trying to close out the series," said Los Angeles rookie forward Tanner Pearson. We knew they were going to come with a big push.
"We've been in this position before. We know what they are going to bring and that kind of helps us prepare ourselves for that."
The Kings won the Stanley Cup for the first time two years ago when they finished off the New Jersey Devils at home in Game Six after winning the first three games.
The Kings dominated the Rangers on Wednesday, outshooting the Bueshirts 15-1 in the last period, but could not find a way to beat New York goalie Henrik Lundqvist, who made 40 saves.
Los Angeles captain Dustin Brown had a breakaway goal in the second period but the Kings were unable to score again and were a little unlucky with the puck twice stopping on the goal-line and having to be swiped away by Rangers defenseman.
"At the end of the day, we weren't good enough to win. It's about finding a way to be better. ... If we clean up our play, you make your own bounces at this time of year," said Brown.
"We had chances that we didn't put in the back of the net. We make and break your game. We need to be better in certain areas of our game."
History says the Rangers are only delaying the inevitable as the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs are the only team to rally from a 3-0 series deficit in the final and win the Stanley Cup.
"When you are in a hole like we were, down three, you just have to take it one at a time," said New York forward Rick Nash.
"Now we'll start to focus on the next one."
Editing by Frank Pingue