Kings take commanding 3-0 lead in Stanley Cup Final, push Rangers to brink
NEW YORK - The Los Angeles Kings moved to the brink of reclaiming the Stanley Cup by beating the New York Rangers 3-0 on Monday at Madison Square Garden to take a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven National Hockey League title series.
A last-second goal at the end of the first period by Jeff Carter gave the Kings a 1-0 lead, and the Western Conference champions increased their advantage with second-period goals by Jake Muzzin and Mike Richards.
Goalie Jonathan Quick was brilliant at the net, stopping all 32 of New York's shots on goal for the Kings, who can clinch their second Cup in three years with a victory at the Garden in Game Four on Wednesday.
The Rangers will need an historic comeback to win their first Cup in 20 years as only one team has ever overcome a 3-0 deficit to win the final - the Toronto Maple Leafs, who notched four successive wins to beat the Detroit Red Wings in 1942.
The fast-paced first period was marked by swarming defense on both sides, keeping attackers from threatening the net.
New York's left winger Mats Zuccarello had the best chance, when he swept in with just under five minutes to go in the period to put his stick on a rebound in the crease just to the right of Quick.
Zuccarello tried to stuff it in, but Quick lunged along the ice and just managed to get his stick on the puck to turn it away at the last instant.
The period looked set to end scoreless until one last Los Angeles rush as the clock ticked down.
Justin Williams centered the puck across to Carter who rifled a wrist shot past New York's Swedish goalie Henrik Lundqvist that grazed off defenseman Dan Girardi's skate for a 1-0 lead.
The Kings increased their lead to 2-0 less than five minutes into the second period when defenseman Muzzin snapped a long-range shot from the blue line past Lundqvist, who was screened by Carter camping out in front of the net on a power play.
The Rangers had the man advantage three times in the second period and on two of them they mounted furious attacks that totaled seven shots on goal but were turned away each time by acrobatic saves by Quick.
With 2:46 left in the period, Mike Richards cashed in a 2-on-1 break by snapping home a return pass from Kyle Clifford past Lundqvist to end the scoring.
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The third period was played in virtual silence at the famed midtown Manhattan arena after thunderous roars had encouraged the Blueshirts from the opening faceoff until the Kings had put their stamp on the game.