The Los Angeles Kings moved to within a win of their first Stanley Cup with a 4-0 victory over the New Jersey Devils in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final, as goalie Jonathan Quick cemented his status as the Conn Smythe favorite with a 22-save shutout in his best performance of the series.
According to NBC, the Kings became the first NHL team to take 3-0 leads in four straight series, the first time that's happened since the league adopted the seven-game series format.
If history is any indication, the Devils are toast. The 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs are the only team to rally from a 3-0 deficit in the Stanley Cup Final to win the title. Those Leafs, the 1975 New York Islanders and 2010 Philadelphia Flyers, are the only teams to rally to win a series once down 3-0.
Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, who combined for the Kings' third goal — one of two scored by what had been arguably the worst power play in the playoffs — were members of that Flyers team that rallied to beat the Bruins. Their goal on Monday night was one chapter in a playoff fable for Kings hockey in Game 3: from franchise legend Wayne Gretzky dropping the first puck to the Kings thrilling a crowd that included everyone from Sidney Crosby to David Beckham to Al Michaels.
The stars came out to watch the Kings; the stars on the Kings, and a few of their grunts, didn't disappoint them.
The Kings took a 1-0 lead at 5:40 of the second period on a play that Devils goalie Martin Brodeur felt was controversial. Trevor Lewis sent a pass to Dwight King in the right circle, who fired on Brodeur. The Devils goalie appeared to have it under his left pad, but three whacks at the puck by King and then a shot by a trailing Alec Martinez forced it into the net.
It was Martinez's first playoff goal; David Clarkson and Marek Zidlicky were victimized on the backcheck.
The Kings' second goal was a work of art by Anze Kopitar's line.
He made a cross-ice pass to Justin Williams on right wing, who sent a quick pass back a trailing Dustin Brown. Kopitar earned separation from Zach Parise by shoving him aside in the neutral zone and then accepted a perfect pass from Brown to chip the puck high past Brodeur.
The Kings were up 2-0 after two periods; Carter's quick shot off a Richards feed at 4:15 of the third on the power play made it 3-0.
Williams, who was spectacular in the game, beat Brodeur with a wrister for the Kings' second power-play goal of the night and the series to make it 4-0.
Prior to these two power-play goals, the Kings power play was converting at 7.8-percent, ahead of only the Chicago Blackhawks for worst of the postseason. The Devils' power play, meanwhile, continued to be invisible, going 0-for-6 in the game, including a 5-on-3 advantage that was squandered.
But it was that kind of night at Staples Center. Especially for Jonathan Quick.
Quick stopped a Ryan Carter shot that rolled up his blocker and over the cage. Minutes before the Kings made it 1-0, he stopped David Clarkson on a 2-on-1. Minutes before the Kings made it 2-0, Adam Henrique was stopped twice at the end of a power play. He made highlight reel stops on Zach Parise and Travis Zajac. Chance after chance, Quick was there.
He was unbeatable as his team has been in the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The echoes of "We Want the Cup!" were heard through the arena. It's nearly unfathomable at this point that the Kings won't deliver the chalice to their subjects.
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