The Los Angeles Kings forced the New York Rangers to the brink of elimination on Monday and will now have four chances to win one game and secure their second Stanley Cup title in three years.
L.A. will have its first opportunity to claim the Cup in Game 4 on Wednesday night.
But seeing as each of the Kings' previous three playoff series have required seven games to determine a winner, there are no guarantees in Game 4.
Here we'll get you set with everything you need to know for Wednesday's pivotal matchup.
Date: Wednesday, June 11
Start Time: 8 p.m. ET
Where: Madison Square Garden in New York
Watch: NBC Sports Network
Live Stream: NBC Sports Live Extra
|Updated 2014 Stanley Cup Title Odds|
|Team||Odds to Win|
|Los Angeles Kings||1-40|
|New York Rangers||12-1|
Odds via Oddschecker.
Kings on the Cusp
L.A. couldn't have asked for a better start to its Stanley Cup Final. Despite being outplayed by New York during regulation of the first two games of the series, clutch overtime goals and a dominant performance from netminder Jonathan Quick in Game 3 have the Kings in total control, per ESPN.com NHL columnist Pierre LeBrun:
But while the odds are stacked heavily against the Rangers, the monumental task ahead is not impossible. After all, L.A. rallied from a 0-3 deficit in the first round of these playoffs, coming out of nowhere to defeat the San Jose Sharks in seven games. Their impressive run included road wins in Games 5 and 7, which is what the Rangers will need to win their first Stanley Cup in 20 years.
Prior to L.A.s memorable run, the Philadelphia Flyers overcame a 0-3 hole to defeat the Boston Bruins in the 2010 Eastern Conference Semifinals. And in total, four teams in NHL history have managed to erase the massive deficit and go on to win.
In order to become the fifth team to accomplish the feat, the Rangers must have short memories and put all of their energy and focus into Game 4. At 3-1, New York's odds would increase and its confidence would resurface.
However, even if the Rangers stave off elimination in Game 4, don't expect New York to stick around for long. The Kings aren't devoid of championship poise and have a puck-stopping wizard in the crease.
Quick's even-keeled comments following his shutout effort in Game 3 highlight his team's laser-like focus, per the Associated Press, via ESPN.com:
I don't think it would be any different if we were down 3-0. We're just trying to win a game in a couple days here. That's the focus. We did a lot of things the right way. Now we get ready for the next one. The fourth one is always the most difficult.
Having played a key role for a team that recently overcame a 3-0 deficit to survive and advance, Quick is well aware of the threat of complacency on this stage. Momentum shifts quickly, and if the Kings fail to take advantage of their chances to put the Rangers away in Game 4, the task of closing out the series will only get more difficult.
Add in the fact that a desperate New York team will be throwing caution to the wind, and it's clear that there's no time to relax for the Kings. While L.A.'s 3-0 series lead bodes extremely well for its championship hopes, one could argue that the Kings could easily be trailing 2-1.
Therefore, if the Rangers are able to capitalize on a few lucky bounces of the puck in Game 4, they'll not only extend the series but force doubt into the collective mind of the Kings, who have lived on the edge in these playoffs.
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