Kings want to finish Rangers as quick as possible
NEW YORK -- The Los Angeles Kings know what it's like to trail 3-0 in a best-of-7 series. That's why they have no intention of taking their foot off the gas in the Stanley Cup Final.
In the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs the Kings became the fourth team in NHL history to win a series after losing the first three games when they rallied to beat the San Jose Sharks. On Wednesday they'll attempt to complete a sweep of the New York Rangers in Game 4 at Madison Square Garden (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS).
"It wasn't easy for us to come back from 3-0 in the first series against San Jose," Kings defenseman Drew Doughty said Tuesday. "We know how it can happen. All it takes is one game, one momentum shift. The [other] team can run with it, the other team can be down in the dumps.
"That's why this next game is so important for us. We can't let them back into the series. We have to take it to them. They're going to have their best effort without a doubt and we need to have ours as well."
In the Western Conference First Round, the Kings fell behind 3-0 to the Sharks when Patrick Marleau scored in overtime. On Tuesday, Los Angeles coach Darryl Sutter reflected on the opening game of that series, when goaltender Jonathan Quick was pulled in favor of Martin Jones after allowing four goals on 20 shots through the first two periods. The Kings allowed 13 goals in the first two games of the series and then lost the heartbreaker in Game 3.
"I don't remember our mood after Game 3 [against the Sharks]," Sutter said. "I recall our mood the third period of Game 1 when we put Martin Jones in. We could see we're not a team somebody says, 'Go away,' and we go away. We're a team that's going to respond.
"[It] doesn't mean you're always going to win, but you're going to respond. The other team is going to know they played you. I saw that in period one of Game 3. We knew we were winning the series; it just took a little bit longer."
It took a bit of time for that confidence to develop. Kings center Jarret Stoll admitted it wasn't easy to shake off Marleau's overtime goal, which put Los Angeles on the brink of elimination. Slowly but surely, though, shock turned into belief.
That belief carried into the second round when the Kings again had a three-game losing streak, falling behind the Anaheim Ducks 3-2 in the Western Conference Second Round before winning back-to-back games to advance.
Twice the Kings have rallied so they know it's possible. But now it's their turn to not allow the Rangers to get up off the mat.
"Right away I was like, 'Geez, are we really down 0-3 here?'" Stoll said of their first-round deficit. "But then very quickly after, you just realize you've got to win Game 4. Just win one game, start putting a little bit of pressure on them. You win one game, you go into their building for Game 5, and that was kind of the turning point I thought for that series for our team. Going in there and winning, it put a lot of doubt in their minds.
"That's exactly what we do not want to do in this series. We want to have a killer instinct and play the right way and play determined, and not let any of that stuff happen and think about it."
Quick made 32 saves in Game 3 on Monday, a throwback to how he performed for much of the 2012 postseason. This year has been a little bit different for Los Angeles, which saw Quick struggle at the start of the playoffs. The Kings have needed more of an all-hands-on-deck approach to reach this point.
The battle for the Conn Smythe Trophy remains very much up in the air with four players having reached the 20-point plateau, while Doughty has 17 points and is averaging 28:18 of ice time per game this postseason. The Kings have scored 11 goals against the Rangers, each by a different player.
That first-round series against the Sharks seems like a distant memory now, but it's important the Kings keep it fresh in their minds when they try to finish the Rangers on Wednesday and win their second championship in three years.
"The guys that we have in the room and the relationship we've got with our coaching staff, it's never get high, never get low," said forward Jeff Carter, who has 10 goals and 14 assists in 24 playoff games. "When we were down three [to San Jose], we were still confident that if we played our game and did what we needed to do that we could battle back and we could still win that series.
"This series, being up 3-0, we're a confident group again. It's about us going out and playing our game and executing our game plan."
Follow Brian Compton on Twitter: @BComptonNHL
Author: Brian Compton | NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor