Frank Franklin II
The Los Angeles Kings are one game away from winning the 2014 Stanley Cup.
The Kings needed overtime to come back and defeat the New York Rangers in Los Angeles for the first two games of the Final, but a last-second goal by Jeff Carter in the first period proved to be the game-winner on Monday. The Kings laid a 3-0 shutout licking on their hosts at Madison Square Garden to take a stranglehold on the Stanley Cup Final.
The game started at a subdued pace—likely a result of cross-continent travel by both teams after a double-overtime marathon in L.A. on Saturday night.
After the Rangers failed to capitalize on their first power-play opportunity with less than three minutes remaining in the first period, the last-second shot by Carter just after the end of the penalty kill deflected off the foot of Rangers' defender Dan Girardi to fool Henrik Lundqvist with just seven-tenths of a second remaining in the opening frame.
The Kings got some puck luck in the second period, with Jake Muzzin and Mike Richards adding some insurance to build the lead to 3-0. New York came out with a determined effort and outshot Los Angeles 17-8 in the middle frame, but Kings' goaltender Jonathan Quick delivered his best performance of the playoffs while the Rangers squandered six power play opportunities without a goal.
After offering up an uncharacteristic 33 giveaways in Game 2, Los Angeles reverted to their typically sound defensive game, surrendering just six giveaways in Game 3.
The final shots were 32-15 in favor of the Rangers but with the Stanley Cup now within their grasp, Quick and the Kings made few mistakes in locking down Game 3. Leaving their bad habits behind, Los Angeles is looking more and more like a team of destiny in 2014.
The New York Rangers will get one more chance to keep their Stanley Cup dream alive at Madison Square Garden when they face the Kings again for Game 4 on Wednesday.