Surely the Los Angeles Kings felt somewhat fortunate to be heading east carrying a 2-0 Stanley Cup Finals lead over the New York Rangers. And while it took several comebacks and two overtime wins to get there, all that really mattered was the final result.
The Kings are a better team than they’ve shown lately, and they’re a better team than the Rangers, period. Tonight, it seemed they were ready to prove it.
Plus you just had a feeling after their stunning opening goal that this was going to be the West Coast’s night, too.
Jeff Carter began the scoring for L.A. He snapped a wristshot from the top of the circle past the glove side of Rangers’ backstop Henrik Lundqvist with 7/10’s of one second left in the 1st.
It was literally a last-second goal.
To lose two straight games in OT and then give up a goal like that had to be demoralizing for the Rangers heading into the locker room. But whether it was or not the Kings were not about to sit around and find out. And so they depressed the accelerator down.
Less than five minutes into 2nd the visitors struck again when a Jake Muzzin power play point shot found the net through a Jeff Carter screen.
Late in the period while on a 2-1 break, Mike Richards accepted a pass from himself off of a carom and then fired the puck home. In doing so he sent his kings into the second intermission with a commanding 3-0 lead.
Ultimately that 3-0 lead would mark both the final score of the game and the current state of the series.
The Rangers threw over twice as many shots at Kings’ goalie Jonathan Quick than the Kings put on Lundqvist. The difference is Lundqvist let three of 15 go by, while Quick stopped them all.
For both Lundqvist and the Blueshirts, that simply cannot happen in the championship round.
In this battle of Hollywood versus Broadway the stars are now aligning for Tinseltown, and the word they’re spelling out is ‘Stanley.’
Now the Kings will have the chance to hoist the old Lord’s ancient Cup at MSG, when the Finals resume with Game 4 Wednesday in Manhattan.