Everyone made the same joke when the Kings went up 2-0 in Game 3. We'd been down this road before, with the Kings erasing two-goal deficits in the first two games of the series to secure wins. But we should've known better. LA is one of the best defensive teams in hockey and was fully capable of doing what the Rangers failed to do: hold onto a lead. The Kings are at their best playing from the front. The Kings were able to sit back and play to their strengths when Jeff Carter gave them their first lead of the series. They shut down New York's forecheck, disrupted the Rangers' zone entries and generally made creating chances miserable for their opponent. Considering the Kings' surprising goal-scoring prowess in the playoffs, Game 3 truly was a return to the defensive dominance they do best.
JONATHAN QUICK SHINES ...
There's no getting around it: Quick was at his absolute best in Game 3. Before Monday, Quick was on pace to have the worst save percentage among Stanley Cup-winning goaltenders since 1990. Considering his 2012 performance is tops on that list, he hasn't played to his potential so far this postseason. But Quick was spectacular in Game 3, robbing the Rangers numerous times with last-ditch paddle whacks and acrobatic pad saves. He was particularly impressive in the second period, when the Rangers outshot LA, 17-8, and pelted him with a handful of quality chances that he deftly turned away. You have to wonder if Quick is in the Rangers' heads at this point, because New York's gusto seemed to fade as the game wore on.
... WHILE HENRIK LUNDQVIST STRUGGLES AGAIN
The Kings were pretty heavily favored entering the series, but the lone advantage for the Rangers appeared to be in net. So far that advantage has been anything but. Lundqvist is the kind of goalie who can pitch 40-save shutouts a few times each season, but he came up short on a night when the Rangers limited Los Angeles to just 15 shots. You can argue that the goals were deflections and not entirely his fault, but Lundqvist himself won't be making any excuses. So far he hasn't been the lone advantage the Rangers needed him to be.
RANGERS POWER PLAY EVAPORATES AGAIN
The New York Rangers' power play has had its share of struggles this postseason, and those struggles have returned in the Stanley Cup Final. New York was 0-for-6 on the man advantage in its Game 3 shutout loss to the Kings and fell to just 1-for-17 in the series. What makes the current slump even more confusing is how the Rangers' coaching staff seems to be going out of its way to not put Rick Nash, a former 40-goal scorer, on the ice for those situations. Nash is having his own share of problems finding the back of the net in the playoffs, but he's still a dangerous scorer and has at least been creating some chances. Over the first three games of the Final he's logged just 2:44 of ice-time on the power play, and 2:26 of that time came in the second half of Game 3 when it was already well out of reach.
CAN THE RANGERS DEFY HISTORY?
Four teams in NHL history have come back to win a series after trailing 3-0. Only one team (the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs) has done it in the Stanley Cup Final. That's the kind of history the Rangers are up against after their Game 3 loss. The scary thing for New York is that not only is it on the brink of elimination, but that Kings probably haven't played their best game in the series yet. They've had stretches of dominance, but it still seems like there is another level the Kings have yet to reach. And if they do, it's hard to imagine the Rangers getting even one win, let alone four.
Stanley Cup Final Schedule
Game 1: Kings 3, Rangers 2 in OTKings lead series, 1-0LA goals: Williams (8), Doughty (5), Clifford (1)NY goals: Hagelin (7), Pouliot (4)
Game 2: Kings 5, Rangers 4 in OTKings lead series, 2-0LA: Stoll (3), Mitchell (1), King (3), Gaborik (13), Brown (5)NY: McDonagh (4), Zuccarello (5), St. Louis (7), Brassard (6)
Game 3: Kings 3, Rangers 0Kings lead series, 3-0LA: Carter (10), Muzzin (6), Richards (3)
Game 4 on Wednesday, June 118 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PTNBCSN / CBC / RDSMadison Square Garden, New York
Game 5 on Friday, June 13*8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PTNBC / CBC / RDSStaples Center, Los Angeles
Game 6 on Monday, June 16*8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PTNBC / CBC / RDSMadison Square Garden, New York
Game 7 on Wednesday, June 18*8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PTNBC / CBC / RDSStaples Center, Los Angeles
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