The Kings Are One Win Away
"We want the Cup!"
So went the chants throughout the third period by the record 18,764 STAPLES Center crowd for hockey as the Kings closed out a 4-0 shutout of the New Jersey Devils. With the Kings one game away from hoisting the Cup, that reality is getting tantalizing close.
All Kings' goaltender Jonathan Quick did was save all 22 shots he faced against the Devils setting a Kings' record with three shutouts in one playoff season.
The Devils had ample chances to win the game. The biggest came late in the first period when Mike Richards was sent to the penalty box for elbowing Zach Parise. A mere 61 seconds later, Jeff Carter caught Adam Henrique with a high stick which sent Henrique back to the locker room to get fixed up and Carter to the box for four minutes.
With 59 seconds of a 5-on-3 advantage, the Devils had to score. Thanks to Quick and two key blocks by Matt Greene, the Devils were stonewalled.
To add insult to injury after Richards got back onto the ice, a bouncing pass to Marek Zidlicky was gobbled up by Richards. The only option for Zidlicky to prevent a breakaway chance was to trip up Richards nullifying the power-play.
A lot of the headlines will say how dominating the Kings were in this win. That ignores how suffocating the Devils' forecheck was. To start the second period, the Devils had six shots-on-goal. After Quick saved David Clarkson's shot, the fourth line took the puck down the ice.
Dwight King got the initial shot on Martin Brodeur and kept hacking away until Alec Martinez's final whack got past the goal line into the net making him the 17th Kings' skater to score a goal in the playoffs. While the Devils argued the play should have been called dead, it stuck and from there the Kings took control.
"That's a momentum-changing call at the time," Devils' head coach Peter DeBoer said. "I hope he's right. That's an awful big call if you're wrong."
Later in the second period, the first line went on a three-man rush, got Brodeur out of position and ended with Anze Kopitar's laser in the back of the net.
"I had the puck just in our zone and I saw Justin skating on the other side and I wanted to make sure I fired it across because he was in front of me," Kopitar said. "Then as the play developed, it was a three-on-three and I was able to beat my guy to the net. Brownie put it right on the tape for me. Didn't want to waste any time. I just caught good wood on it, was able to put it in."
Then in the third period even the Kings' laughable power-play got in the act and buried the Devils: Jeff Carter and Justin Williams 2:32 apart.
The only thing that would have made the game better was if Simon Gagne playing in his first game since Dec. 26 had scored. But Gagne was happy to be able to make a contribution getting three shots on Brodeur to go along with a hit and a slashing penalty at the end of the second.
"I felt pretty good," Gagne said. "I worked hard to get back and play. I was not sure if I was going to play. To get back on the ice and play a game and get back on the ice after a while is always good, especially in a Stanley Cup Final. [There is] no better feeling."
The Kings can tell themselves all they want that the fourth win is the hardest to get, that they're focused on one shift at a time and all that other cliched nonsense. The Devils are done.
"I'm not disappointed in our team," DeBoer said. "We played right to the final buzzer. I don't care what the scoreboard said. We battled right to the buzzer, and we'll do the same on Wednesday night."
All of their battling has left them with only two goals in three games. They are 0-for-12 in the power-play with only 12 shots to show for it. Zach Parise, Ilya Kovalchuk and Patrick Elias have nothing to show for their showing.
Meanwhile the Kings are now 15-2 in the playoffs. According to their notes:
* Jonathan Quick earned his third shutout of the postseason, setting a franchise record
* Quick now has four total playoff shutouts, also a franchise record
* Quick has stopped 70-of-72 shots in the series
* Of the 21 skaters who’ve appeared in at least one playoff game for the Kings, 18 have a point and 17 have a goal
* The Kings have out-scored their opponents 49-24 in the playoffs
* The Kings have killed 64-of-69 penalties in the playoffs (92.8 percent)
* The Kings have won four straight playoff games and 12 of their last 13 overall (since April 22)
* The Kings are the first team in NHL history to lead 3-0 all four series of the playoffs
* If the Kings win on Wednesday they would tie the NHL mark for best record in the playoffs (Edmonton was 16-2 in 1988)
And now the Kings are one win away.