Kings refuse to look too far ahead
By Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor
NEWARK, N.J. -- The Los Angeles Kings don't have to go back very far in the history books to realize they haven't won anything yet.
It was just one year ago that the Vancouver Canucks won the first two games of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final against the Boston Bruins, only to end up losing in a dramatic seven-game series. But there's one major difference -- the Canucks left Vancouver with a 2-0 series lead. Los Angeles is going home with one.
Jeff Carter's goal at 13:42 of overtime gave the Kings a 2-1 victory against the New Jersey Devils in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final at the Prudential Center on Saturday night -- and has the Kings halfway to their ultimate goal.
Los Angeles, which is now 10-0 on the road this spring, will host the Devils for Games 3 and 4 on Monday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS) and Wednesday, respectively. While they have a chance to assure themselves of a championship without having to travel to the East Coast again, the Kings refuse to get ahead of themselves.
"You've got to keep your eye on the prize," forward Justin Williams said. "We haven't accomplished anything yet. You look at last year -- who won the first two games and who ended up winning the Stanley Cup? Yes, we're going back home in front of our hometown fans and we're excited about that. I'm sure they are, too. But it's a quicker turnaround then it was with Game 1 and Game 2."
There's a chance fatigue could be a factor in Game 3. Not only do the Kings and Devils now have to fly coast to coast, but this is the first Stanley Cup Final since 1951 that required overtime in each of the first two games. Los Angeles improved to 4-0 in OT this postseason thanks to Carter's tally. The post-game celebrating, however, will be short-lived.
"I think we have to reset, refocus," said defenseman Drew Doughty, who scored one of the prettiest goals of the postseason in the opening period to give the Kings an early lead. "We have to go back to L.A. as if the series is just starting. We have home-ice advantage and we have to take the first two at home.
"We're happy that we got the first two. But going home on the plane tonight, we're trying to forget about those games. We're obviously going to learn what we did right and wrong, but going back home, it's a whole new series."
It certainly will be a whole new series if the bounces go the Devils' way in Game 3. Considering just how hard they had to work to survive the first two games here, the Kings know the Devils are going to be playing with desperation Monday night at Staples Center.
"Obviously, they might be on their heels a little bit," Doughty said. "I think going into L.A., they're going to come out hard. They're playing desperate. They know they have to win four out of five now. They're going to be playing their best hockey. I think these first two games we haven't been at our best, so it's about time we pick up our socks and play our best hockey, too."
A raucous environment awaits the teams Monday night in Los Angeles, where the Kings have played just six of 16 games this postseason. Their hard work on the road across the past two months has them in position to celebrate in front of their fans.
But the Kings understand it's not going to come easy.
"We're obviously very happy with where we're at," Williams said. "We're not satisfied as of yet. We accomplished what we wanted to do here. We won two games. Now we're going to play in front of our hometown fans."
"A big two wins," center Jarret Stoll added, "but we're halfway there and it's a tough battle to go."
Follow Brian Compton on Twitter: @BComptonNHL