mardi 10 juin 2014

Los Angeles vs New York - Kings take stranglehold on Cup final #hockey #playoff #kings #rangers

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Preconceptions about the lopsided potential of this Stanley Cup final — hastily revised after the first two games — appear to have been correct after all.

The Los Angeles Kings, arguably lucky to win either, let alone both, of their home games to start the series, dominated every phase of Game 3 Monday night at Madison Square Garden.

It was 3-0 on the scoreboard, it is 3-0 in games, and soon, to use an old newspaper symbol for “end of story” it will be -30- for the New York Rangers.

Jeff Carter supplied the dagger — opening scoring with 0.8 seconds left in the first period — and goalie Jonathan Quick the exclamation point.

Jake Muzzin and Mike Richards added second-period goals, and the Kings shut it down after that.
New York outshot the visitors 32-15 and it couldn’t have mattered less, because the Kings got three exceptional bounces, one on each of their goals, and Quick was there to clean up their rare mistakes with a performance reminiscent of his 2012 Conn Smythe Trophy form.

“That was our hockey, that was our team tonight,” said Kings centre Jarret Stoll. “We wanted to get the lead and stifle them, stay on top of them.

“The games have been so back-and-forth and nail-biting, I’m sure for fans, people watching the games. But we were feeling it, we were rolling our lines, 25-35 seconds (shifts), just keeping the tempo high.”

The coast-to-coast change of venue altered the tone almost immediately, and the teams settled into a tight-checking pattern more familiar to both.

“This is the game that we want to play,” said defenceman Matt Greene. “We don’t want to get into shootouts. Obviously the come-from-behind wins are not going to last.”

The shots were 3-3 through the first period until its very last split-second when Justin Williams — yes, him again — found Carter unchecked in the slot and Carter’s snap shot glanced off the skate of a sliding Dan Girardi and in and out of Henrik Lundqvist’s glove.

The clock showed 0.0 but the red light was on, and the replay revealed the puck crossed the line with 0.8 seconds left. The Garden went quiet as 18,006 jaws dropped simultaneously. Make that 18,007, because New York coach Alain Vigneault’s did, too, and he cast his eyes heavenward as if to say:
“Aren’t you finished yet?”

On Muzzin’s goal, his shot glanced off Rangers’ Marty St. Louis, who was trying to block it, and handcuffed Lundqvist. Richards scored on a 2-on-1 late in the period when his attempted pass to Kyle Clifford was batted right back onto his stick by defenceman Ryan McDonagh and Lundqvist could ony watch helpessly as Richards buried it … and very likely, buried the Rangers along with it.

“Well, you try to stay positive right now, but it’s tough,” said Lundqvist, who simply has not got a break in this series. “We are doing a lot of good things but you look at the goals and we put two in our own net and it was just a tough play on the third one.

“At some point, you are going to need some puck luck and we don’t have any right now. It feels like they have all of it.

“It doesn’t matter what you think you deserve out there, you just have to find a way to win games, and that’s what they have been doing.”

Quick, meanwhile, made two other-worldly stick saves, one on Mats Zuccarello in the first period, another on Derick Brassard in the second, and was all over the puck, tracking it through traffic, gambling and winning when he charged out to cut angles, never giving up on scrambles.

Zuccarello could have changed the feel of the game had he scored 12 minutes in, with Quick down and out. But with an open net at his feet, the diminutive Norwegian was foiled by Quick’s desperate dive, and the puck glanced off the goaltender’s paddle and out the other side.

“I don’t know how … did he save it?” said Stoll. “Empty net, it was 0-0 at the time, those are saves you need, and that’s the type of goalie he is. He’s the best in the world. He’s going to come up with those saves sometimes, it doesn’t surprise us.

“He was great for us tonight, he did everything we needed him to do, when we needed it. The power plays that they had (Rangers were 0-for-6), coming up with pucks, battling like he was, side to side and out, challenging …”

L.A. captain Dustin Brown thinks the size of the stage appeals to Quick.

"I think it definitely plays a part, being on this type of stage, being from this area," said Brown. "I think it's a big deal to anybody who plays here. I think also the guy at the other end of the ice is a very good goaltender as well and I think that motivates Quickie because he's a competitor."

The Kings, looking fresher than in either of the two games in L.A., kept the pedal down in the third period and didn't allow the Rangers even a breath of life.

“Well, we’re used to the travel the day before. Obviously, being in the West, we do it a lot. We moved past all that fatigue part of it a couple of days ago,” said L.A. coach Darryl Sutter.
Now, it’s just about finishing.

The Kings had New Jersey down 3-0 in games two seasons ago, and had to go six games to win it.
“I haven’t even thought about that,” Sutter said. “Has nothing to do with this series. I mean, hell, we
got thrown under the bus by everybody on earth seven weeks ago.”

That’s when they were down 0-3 to San Jose, the first of their seven-game marathons.

They hadn’t done anything the easy way yet … until Monday night.

Vigneault was asked what he would tell his players, considering what they face in Game 4.

"Well," he said, "I'm going to take the night to figure it out."