Without question, New York’s Madison Square Garden is one of the toughest arenas for any visiting hockey team. However, the Los Angeles Kings had no problem when they played there on Monday night for Game three of the Stanley Cup Finals. After winning the first two games in overtime, LA defeated the Rangers by a score of 3-0, spoiling the first Stanley Cup Finals game in New York City since 1994.
The first twenty minutes of the game featured a defensive battle as New York and LA combined for a total of nine shots. LA finally broke the ice when Jeff Carter scored with a single second remaining in the period. The assist came from Justin Williams, who made the pass between Rick Nash and John Moore, and Carter’s shot bounced off Henrik Lundqvist’s glove and into the net for a 1-0 lead.
Early in the second period, Rangers defenseman, Marc Staal, was called for high-sticking. The penalty resulted in a one man advantage for the Kings and Jake Muzzin capitalized by scoring a power play goal from the blue line. Minutes later, Mike Richards and Trevor Lewis skated down the ice with Ryan McDonagh defending. Richards’ attempted pass to Lewis bounced off of McDonagh’s leg, but Richards was able to regain possession of the puck and notch LA’s third goal.
New York threatened on numerous occasions during the last two periods, outshooting LA 28-10. However, Kings goalie, Jonathan Quick, came up big by stopping everything that he faced. Even when Rangers head coach, Alain Vigneault, made the move to pull Lundqvist in favor for an extra attacker in the final minutes, New York’s desperate rush was denied by a strong defensive effort.
LA is only one win away from clinching their second Championship in three years. The Kings also have a chance to become the first team to win the Cup in a sweep since the 1998 Detroit Red Wings. Meanwhile, the Rangers still have a chance, but they will have to win four straight. Only one team in NHL history has battled out of a three game hole to win the Cup and that was the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs.
Can the Kings hoist the Cup following Game four or will the Rangers prevent themselves from being swept? The questions will be answered when the contest continues on Wednesday at 8 p.m. at Madison Square Garden.