Two bounces. That's really the difference between the New York Rangers heading home with an 0-2 series lead in the Stanley Cup Final and their chance to hold a 2-0 series lead. For a remarkable third straight year in the Final, the first two games of the series went to overtime, and the Kings and Rangers will play Game 3 on the bad ice of Madison Square Garden, where the home team hopes those bounces will finally go their way.
"We have to hold serve, and we know that," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said before Game 3. "But we know our game and we know the way to play. When we do that, we're a good team. We have done that for the most part throughout this series. But even though we're playing hard and we're playing the right way, they're a great hockey team. I mean, it's been nine periods of real good hockey so far. Could have gone one way or the other. They're up 2-0. Give them full credit. We're going to try to make this a series."
Stanley Cup Final
Anze Kopitar's continued brilliance
Anze Kopitar's work with Marian Gaborik and his shutdown of the Rangers' top guns has been enough to push the Kings within two wins of the Cup.
Stanley Cup Final
The Rangers will certainly be leaning on home cooking and the friendly MSG crowd behind them as they look to pull to 2-1 in the series. It's the first Stanley Cup Final game in Manhattan since 1994, and if the giant crowds at Bryant Park for Games 1 and 2 were any indication, and if the insane ticket prices are any indication, the NYC crowd should put the Staples Center crowd to shame on Monday evening. New York has waited a long time for this, and they'll finally get a chance at release when the doors to Madison Square Garden open a few hours before game time.
Darryl Sutter is never one to say much, but even he alluded to that advantage in his own dry way on Monday when a reporter asked him his biggest concern heading into the evening.
"I think the biggest concern would be that we're coming into Madison Square Garden and playing the New York Rangers," Sutter said. "Makes sense. It's logical." He then laughed for half a second. Yes, Darryl Sutter smiles sometimes.
The Kings have come back from two-goals down in each of the two games so far in the series, and they're actually the first team in Stanley Cup Final history that's been victorious in the first two games of the series without actually holding a lead in either game. Overall, though, the Kings are leading in the two departments that mean most: shots on goal, 87 to 65, and goals, 8 to 6. Despite blowing those two leads, though, it doesn't mean the Rangers have much to change. It's been such a tight series that overreacting would be suicide at this point.
"I think our confidence is still there, Rangers forward Derick Brassard said on Sunday. "I think if we keep playing the same way, we have a great chance to win. It's a far way to be over. We came back from 1-3 against Pittsburgh. We proved to ourselves that we can come back against some really good teams. I think we showed to ourselves that we can play with those guys. In both games, they win in overtime, it could go either way. I think we're pretty confident to come back here and we're pretty excited to play in front of our own fans."
There are no expected lineup changes for either team in Game 3, but that could always change once pre-game warmups are out of the way. Jonathan Quick vs. Henrik Lundqvist in goal. Here's all the pertinent information you need to watch Game 3:
Los Angeles Kings at New York Rangers
Game 3, Stanley Cup Final | Kings lead, 2-0
8 p.m. ET | Madison Square Garden | New York, N.Y.