Before Monday night, the Kings had not led in regulation in any of their last three playoff games, including the first two games of the Stanley Cup Finals. They either trailed or remained tied during regulation in each game. Despite this, they still managed to win three of the most important games of their season.
L.A. changed that theme in Game 3 against the Rangers with a convincing 3-0 shutout win to take a 3-0 series lead.
Much has been made lately of the Kings’ lack of aggressive starts and their tendency to fall behind early. They have been getting away with it due to their ability to pull of incredible comeback after incredible comeback. The Kings came back from two goals down in each of the first two games of the Stanley Cup Finals to ultimately win in overtime, not to mention their overtime win in Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals to put them in this position.
On Monday night, however, the Kings showed that they are more than just the comeback kids. A Jeff Carter goal in the final second of the first period was all the Kings needed to put them over the top for the remainder of the game.
Jonathan Quick stole the spotlight in Madison Square Garden away from Henrik Lundqvist with his ninth career playoff shutout. Quick was brilliant, stopping all 32 shots he faced. Lundqvist on the other hand, had one of his poorest games of his otherwise outstanding playoffs. The Rangers’ goalie recorded just 12 saves on the 15 shots that he faced.
From the Rangers’ perspective, there is not much for them to hang their hats on. They gave up two games in L.A. that they could have won and now came up flat on their home ice.
In winning Game 2 after overcoming yet another late-game deficit, the Kings became the first team in NHL history to win three straight games after overcoming a two-goal deficit in the same post-season.
History, of course, is not in favor of the Rangers. Teams down 3-0 in the Stanley Cup Finals are a combined 25-1, with the lone win coming in 1939 when the Red Wings came back to beat the Maple Leaves.
When the Kings began their magical playoff run, they were down 3-0 in their first round series against the Sharks.
Now, L.A. finds itself one win away from their second Stanley Cup Championship in three years.
Before the series started, I predicted that the Rangers would win in six games.
I may have to revise that pick.