Kings aim to sweep Rangers for 2nd Cup in three years
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Los Angeles Kings hope to lock up their second Stanley Cup title in three seasons Wednesday, when they try to complete a sweep of the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.
The Kings own a 3-0 lead heading into Game 4 of the best-of-seven Stanley Cup Finals. Los Angeles won the first two tilts of this series on home ice, posting comeback victories to win Games 1 and 2 beyond regulation before grabbing Monday's Game 3 meeting in New York by a 3-0 score.
L.A., which beat New Jersey in six games for the franchise's first Cup victory in 2012, can become the first NHL team to win the Stanley Cup Finals in a sweep since Detroit claimed four straight against Washington in 1998. However, the Kings also held a 3-0 lead over the Devils in 2012 but then dropped two straight before clinching the title on home ice in Game 6.
The Rangers, meanwhile, will try to stave off elimination in Game 4 and send the series back to L.A. for a fifth meeting on Friday. New York is still shooting for its first win in the Stanley Cup Finals since 1994, when it beat Vancouver in seven games for its first title since 1940.
The first Cup Finals game at Madison Square Garden in 20 years didn't go the way the Rangers planned, as the Kings used a strong performance by Jonathan Quick to deliver a 3-0 win and push New York to the brink of elimination.
Quick made 32 saves to record his second shutout of the 2014 postseason and ninth of his playoff career.
Jeff Carter, Jake Muzzin and Mike Richards all scored for the Kings, who needed overtime in Game 1 and double-overtime in Game 2 to win their two games at home. They got a late goal in the first period in Game 3, however, then scored twice more in the second to back Quick's stellar effort.
"It was a playoff hockey game. We were trying to win a hockey game," said Quick. "We did a lot of things the right way. We were able to do that. Now we get ready for the next one. The fourth one is always the most difficult."
The Rangers were playing their first home game in the Cup Finals since a Game 7 win against Vancouver on June 14, 1994. New York was hoping a familiar setting would get them in the win column, but that was not the case. The Rangers were unable to solve Quick, though, and Henrik Lundqvist was victimized for all three goals on just 15 shots.
"He was obviously the best player on the ice tonight," said New York head coach Alain Vigneault about Quick. "Give them credit, though, because they found a way to put the puck past a real good goaltender and we couldn't do it."
If New York is to win this series, it will have to do something only four other teams have done in NHL playoff history -- win four straight games after falling in a 3-0 hole. One of those clubs is the Kings, who rallied from a 3-0 deficit to beat the San Jose Sharks in the first round of this year's playoffs.
The only time a team erased a 3-0 deficit to win the Cup was in 1942 when Toronto defeated Detroit.
Shortly after killing off a New York penalty and with time winding down in the first period, the Kings skated down the other way. Justin Williams gained the zone through the middle, slipping over to the right before sending a short pass back to his left. Carter took the feed and snapped a shot from the top of the right circle that hit off the tip of the left skate blade of a diving Dan Girardi and in off the glove of Lundqvist with just 0.8 seconds left.
It was the first time the Kings had a lead in a game since the third period of Game 6 of the Western Conference finals, a span of 249:14.
"Well, I know there wasn't a lot of shots on net," said Lundqvist about the goal. "But we felt we played a real good period, the pace was good, there wasn't a lot of room, both teams were battling real hard for ice. That was their only chance in the first period. We out-chanced them 4-1. We had some real good looks. Stuff like that happens."
Muzzin made it 2-0 L.A. less than five minutes into the second stanza when his shot from the point hit off Rangers forward Martin St. Louis before beating Lundqvist, who was screened in front by Carter. Richards then completed the scoring with 2:46 left in the second period.
Los Angeles forward Anze Kopitar had an assist in the game and has 21 helpers in the postseason. His 26 points leads all skaters in the postseason, while Carter and Williams are tied for second with 24 each. Williams has recorded a point in five straight games, and has two goals and seven assists over that span.
If the Rangers are to make a series of this, they will likely need forward Rick Nash to contribute on offense. Nash has yet to register a point in this series despite totaling 15 shots on net in the first three games. Nash, who led New York with 26 goals during the regular season, has had a disappointing playoffs overall, recording just 10 points (3G, 7A) in 23 contests.
06/11 10:29:02 ET