L.A. Kings Grab Series Stranglehold With Shutout Win

Stanley Cup Playoffs
Jun 9, 2014; New York, NY, USA; New York Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi (5) tries to clear the puck away from the net of goalie Henrik Lundqvist (30) against Los Angeles Kings right wing Marian Gaborik (right) and center Jeff Carter (left) during the third period in game three of the 2014 Stanley Cup Final at Madison Square Garden. Bruce Bennett/Pool Photo via USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Kings at New York Rangers – LAK wins 3-0, LAK leads series 3-0

I would say it would be important for the Rangers to get a quick start at home against Los Angeles but after the first two games saw to blown leads by New York, maybe that’s not necessarily important for them against this team.

One thing the Rangers would hang their hat on is that whichever line they put out against Anze Kopitar in Games 1 & 2 typically did fairly well. Kopitar was just a 47.4-percent CorsiFor through the first two games in Los Angeles. At times, the Rangers were able to keep the puck away from Los Angeles’ top playmakers for long stretches at a time. Even if New York doesn’t create a lot of offense with Kopitar on the ice, the fact that the Rangers are preventing that line from generating a lot of offensive opportunities is a good thing. At that rate, Kopitar and company won’t be able to keep putting pucks past Henrik Lundqvist and that would be a big concern off their list.

Los Angeles would need a stellar game from their goaltender in this one. Jonathan Quick hadn’t been asked to be great yet going into Game 3 – he had a .906 save percentage for the playoffs and .908 through the first two games – but with the energy New York would be expected to bring a home Stanley Cup Final game, Quick would probably have to have his best game of this series if the Kings wanted to extend their series lead to 3-0.

While the first two goals Los Angeles scored were by no means the fault of Lundqvist but it was indicative of how this series had gone for the Rangers so far. Two deflections off of two different players led to the two goals for the Kings. The third goal was a 2-on-1 where the pass by Mike Richards deflected off of Ryan McDonagh and right back on Richards’ stick for a mostly-open net.

Meanwhile, Mats Zuccarello hit the post on an empty-ish net in the first period, Rick Nash was hooked down on a wrap-around with an open net in the second period, and then on the ensuing power play after the Nash hook, the Rangers fired high on Quick when he was down and out. The breaks and bounces seemed to be going Los Angeles’ way and it would be an incredibly tall task for the Rangers to overcome a great team that is getting the bounces.

If there was any doubt to how the puck luck was going:

That hurts as a team looking to get back in a playoff series. Sometimes hockey teams execute their game plan very well and things go their way. Other times, teams don’t execute very well yet they win anyway. It’s why fans watch sports.

Quick would have his best game of the series. He stopped all 32 shots he faced for his second shutout of the playoffs (he did only have three in their Cup run two years ago). One thing that kind of surprised me was that this was the first time Quick allowed fewer than two goals in a game since Game 6 of the Anaheim series.

Hockey is a funny game sometimes. The Kings got the bounces, Quick had his best game in recent memory, and now the Rangers have an incredibly daunting task ahead of them.

Gaborik finished the game as the top 5-on-5 possession player for the Kings at 52.9-percent. That didn’t really matter, though. The Kings went into full lockdown mode after their third goal.

For the final tally:

*as always, a thanks to Extra Skater and Shift Chart 

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