Stanley Cup Final: Kings shut out Rangers
By Everett Merrill
NEW YORK — The Los Angeles Kings are one win away from capturing the Stanley Cup for the second time in three seasons.
Los Angeles turned back the New York Rangers 3-0 in Game 3 on Monday, taking a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven series. Game 4 is Wednesday at Madison Square Garden.
Teams leading the Stanley Cup finals 3-0 went on to win the series 25 of 26 times since the NHL implemented the best-of-seven format in 1939.
The only club to overcome a 3-0 series deficit to win the Cup was the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs, who rallied against the Detroit Red Wings.
Los Angeles, which claimed its first Stanley Cup in 2012 when it defeated the New Jersey Devils, received goals from centers Mike Richards and Jeff Carter and defenseman Jake Muzzin.
Kings goalie Jonathan Quick stopped 32 shots to earn the ninth shutout of his playoff career. Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist made 12 saves.
New York was 0-for-5 on the power play and is 1-for-13 in the series.
Unlike the first two games of the series, in which the Kings had to battle back from deficits, eventually winning in overtime, Game 3 was never in doubt. Los Angeles was far more aggressive, blocking 20 shots and turning the Madison Square Garden crowd of 18,006 into a non-factor.
In a last ditch effort to generate some offense, New York coach Alain Vigneault pulled Lundqvist with just under four minutes to play, but the Rangers were unable to get a shot past Quick.
Richards’ third goal of the playoffs provided the Kings with a commanding 3-0 lead after two periods. The Kings forward was attempting a pass back to center Trevor Lewis, who was skating down the right side on the two-on-one, but the puck slid off New York defenseman Ryan McDonagh and into the net at 17:14 of the middle period.
Los Angeles went ahead 2-0 on a power-play goal by Muzzin at 4:17 of the second period. Rangers defenseman Marc Staal was in the penalty box after he was called for high-sticking Kings defenseman Alec Martinez in the offensive zone. Muzzin accepted a pass from center Anze Kopitar at the right end of the blue line, and he sent a shot 60 feet through traffic and past Lundqvist for his sixth goal of the playoffs.
New York fired 17 shots at Quick in the second period but went 0-for-3 with a man advantage. Its best scoring chance occurred in a flurry of three shots in the span of four seconds on the power play midway through the period. However, Quick kicked out shots by Rangers forwards Brad Richards, Benoit Pouliot and Derick Brassard, all within 20 feet.
Just before the first intermission, the Kings took their first lead in regulation since the third period of Game 6 against the Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference finals. Carter received a pass from right winger Justin Williams in the high slot and fired a wrist shot over Lundqvist’s glove hand with 0.7 seconds left in the first period.
Carter recorded at least one point for the ninth time in his past 11 playoff games.
The Rangers managed only four shots on goal and none in the only power-play opportunity of the tightly checked first period.
NOTES: Games 1 and 2 of the Stanley Cup final required overtime for an unprecedented third straight year. ... The Kings are the first team in NHL history to win three consecutive playoff games they trailed by two goals. ... Kings D Drew Doughty averaged 29:49 of ice time over the past three games before Monday. He led all players with a career-high 41:41 of action during Game 2 of the Stanley Cup finals. ... Kings C Tyler Toffoli and LW Tanner Pearson ranked No. 1 and No. 2 among rookie scoring leaders in the playoffs with 13 and 12 points, respectively, going into Game 3. Rangers LW Chris Kreider was third with 11 points. ... Home teams that won the first two games of the finals won the series on 32 of 35 occasions, though the 2009 Pittsburgh Penguins and 2011 Boston Bruins are two of the three teams that overcame such a deficit. ... Nine Rangers have recorded at least 10 points in the playoffs this year — the most in franchise history.