2014 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFSLOS ANGELES KINGS
at NEW YORK RANGERS
Stanley Cup Finals
Game 3 - Los Angeles leads series 2-0
Puck Drops: Monday, 8:05 p.m. ET
Line: New York -130, Los Angeles +110, Total: 5
The Rangers find themselves in a 2-0 series deficit after blowing another two-goal lead in Game 2, and now face a must-win contest against the confident Kings in Monday's Game 3.
Just like Game 1, New York did a great job of getting off to a fast start on the road, taking a 2-0 lead into the first intermission. The Rangers were still in great shape entering the final period with a 4-2 lead, but for the second consecutive game, L.A. was able to outshoot its opponent (44-38) and rallied for a 5-4 double-overtime victory. The Kings hurt themselves early by giving the puck away, and finished with 33 giveaways for the game, compared to only 15 for their opponent. While L.A. made some big plays to get the win, Game 2 was marred by a controversial third goal, in which a penalty could have been called for goalie interference. But the goal ended up counting, and it gave the Kings momentum to eventually send the game to overtime. Both goalies had their moments in the game, but also struggled at different times. Both offenses in the third period and overtime were able to put constant pressure on the goalies at the net, forcing both Henrik Lundqvist (39 saves on 44 attempts, .886 Sv Pct) and Jonathan Quick (34 saves on 38 attempts, .895 Sv Pct) to make some huge saves to keep their teams in the game. For the New York, the club did exactly what teams need to do on the road, and that is get off to a good start. While it lost both of those games, it was very competitive each time, which should give the team momentum it heads back home where it is 26-25 this season, including 6-4 in the playoffs. However, the Kings have shown to be a very good road team this season (30-24), including a 7-3 mark in the past 10 postseason away tilts, and have all the momentum entering Monday's contest.
Kings RW Justin Williams was the star of Game 1 after scoring the game-winning goal, and was once again dominant in Game 2, finishing with three assists and four shots on goal. RW Marian Gaborik (1 goal, four shots) has continued to be a star for the Kings, as he has done a terrific job of putting pressure on the opposing team’s goalie throughout the playoffs. On Saturday night, it was RW Dustin Brown who played the role of hero, winning the game with his amazing mid-air deflection goal nearly 10 minutes into double overtime. Game 2 was a very physical contest with both teams nearly identical in hits (Rangers 51, Kings 50), and you can expect Game 3 to be every bit as physical. Face-offs were also nearly identical with L.A. holding a slim 56-54 advantage. The Kings will have to play much better in the defensive end, as they can ill-afford to get down in Game 3 on the road. Jonathan Quick has gotten off to rough starts in the net, but Los Angeles has had too many breakdowns, allowing the Rangers to have too many easy scoring opportunities.
For New York, this series is much closer than the 2-0 series deficit indicates. The club has done a terrific job of using its speed early in the game, but has just run out of energy late in the contests. In Game 2, D Ryan McDonagh (1 goal, 1 assist) and RW Mats Zuccarello (1 goal, 1 assist, +2 rating) were able to get things going early for the Rangers, and will look to do the same at Madison Square Garden. In New York’s last home game, Henrik Lundqvist pitched a shutout in a series-clinching victory against the Canadiens. In 10 home games this postseason, the Rangers have allowed only 2.0 goals per game, compared to 2.75 goals per game on the road. New York's penalty kill has been one of the best units in the NHL in the regular season, ranking third in the league (85.7%), and in this series, the club has once again been terrific against the power play, allowing the Kings to score only one goal on nine opportunities with the man advantage, and even scoring a short-handed goal in Game 1. But the Rangers are only 1-for-8 on the power play this series. The home crowd in New York should give its club a huge boost, and that could play a big role as this team is only a couple of plays from being up 2-0 in this series. If the Rangers can get off to a quick start and keep up the energy for a full three periods, this has the makings of a long series.