NEW YORK – The Los Angeles Kings are one win away from another coronation.
Jeff Carter, Jake Muzzin and Mike Richards scored goals and Jonathan Quick was spectacular in a 3-0 Game 3 victory in the Stanley Cup Final at Madison Square Garden on Monday night. The win moved the Kings to 3-0 in the series, with a chance to sweep the Rangers on Wednesday night.
The Rangers couldn’t solve Quick, who had by far his strongest game of the series with and perhaps the playoffs. He robbed Mats Zuccarello and Derrick Brassard with this paddle. His positioning was stellar throughout the game, making 32 saves.
And his offense, for the first time in three games, scored first.
The Kings scored a soul-crushing goal at the end of the first period. Like, the very end.
Justin Williams moved in on right wing, and sent a pass to Jeff Carter, who fired the puck off a diving Dan Girardi and past Lundqvist for the 1-0 lead – the first one the Kings had in their last 249 minutes and 14 seconds of playoff hockey.
Carter’s goal was scored with 0.7 seconds remaining in the period. The Garden fell silent.
It was two of the hottest scorers in the Stanley Cup Playoffs – Carter’s 10th goal, on Williams’ 23rd point – combining for the goal. It was one of the series’ most maligned defensemen, Girardi, accidentally deflecting the puck in.
The Kings struck again on the power play in the second period.
With Marc Staal in the box for a high stick on Alec Martinez, defenseman Jake Muzzin threw a shot from the blue line that went off the glove of the Rangers Marty St. Louis and past a Jeff Carter screen for the 2-0 lead at 4:17. It was his sixth of the playoffs.
The floodgates began to open later in the period, as a Mike Richards converted a 2-on-1 into a 3-0 lead:
Richards and Trevor Lewis were sprung from the defensive zone from Kyle Clifford, and they moved down on Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh. Richards attempted to send the puck to Lewis, but it hit McDonagh and went right back to Richards. He fired it past Lundqvist for the 3-0 lead at 17:14.
Now the Kings have a chance to not repeat the mistakes of the past. In 2012, when they won their first Stanley Cup, the Kings defeated the Devils in overtime in Games 1 and 2, shut them out in Game 3 but then lost Game 4.
Will they get to use their brooms against the Rangers on Wednesday?