NEW YORK – It turns out goaltender Jonathan Quick and the Los Angeles Kings are just as good with the lead as they are without it.
That seemingly leaves the New York Rangers with little hope of making much of a series out of the best-of-seven Stanley Cup Final.
Quick stopped 32 shots in his best start of the series, Jeff Carter scored in the final second of the first period, Jake Muzzin and Mike Richards added goals in the second, and the Kings beat the Rangers 3-0 on Monday night to move one victory from their second Stanley Cup title in three years.
Los Angeles leads 3-0 and has a chance to hoist the Cup on Wednesday night in New York. The Kings already have survived three Game 7s on the road in this postseason, so this amount of success has their confidence soaring.
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Quick hardly showed it when he took the podium wearing a black hooded sweatshirt.
“I don’t think it would be any different if we were down 3-0,” he said. “We’re just trying to win a game in a couple days here. That’s the focus.”
After the Rangers blew two-goal leads in each of the first two games in Los Angeles, they came home and couldn’t get anything going against Quick.
“We did a lot of things the right way,” Quick said. “Now we get ready for the next one. The fourth one is always the most difficult.”
Los Angeles escaped with two overtime victories at home and took command inside Madison Square Garden by making the most of its chances. The Kings were outshot 32-15, but beat Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist three times.
“You try to stay positive right now, but it’s tough. It’s really tough,” Lundqvist said. “We are doing a lot of good things, but you look at the goals and we put two in our own net. Then just a tough play on the third one.”
Quick, a Connecticut native who grew up a fan of the Rangers and 1994 Stanley Cup-winning goalie Mike Richter, made a brilliant save with his stick blade to deny Derick Brassard shortly after a Rangers power play. That stop came on the heels of Brassard having two chances during the advantage off a rebound of Brad Richards’ shot.
Brassard’s first attempt was blocked, and the second was stopped by Quick.
The Kings goalie was also on his toes eight seconds into the third when Chris Kreider came in alone but was stopped in tight. That eliminated the optimism the sold-out, towel-waving crowd had of a big comeback.
“You’ve got to finish in this game. It’s a performance-oriented business,” Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said.
Los Angeles took its first in-game lead in the series when Carter scored his 10th of the playoffs on the Kings’ fifth shot. Carter snapped a hard drive that clipped the skate of diving defenseman Dan Girardi in front and caromed inside the right post with 0.7 seconds left.
The red and green lights behind Lundqvist both flashed while the Kings celebrated. At no point did Los Angeles hold the lead at home in the first two games until it ended each contest with an overtime goal.
“It was an unfortunate goal to give up at the end of the period,” Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh said. “I thought our guys stayed with it and tried to come out with some energy, and created a lot. It was a tough one.”