Jun 10 2014, 1:52am CDT | by Poch de la Rosa
"There were no late-game heroics needed Monday night. The Kings' defense set the tone from the get-go.
"Inside Madison Square Garden, arguably the sports world's most famous still-standing arena, the Rangers were hosting a Stanley Cup Final game for the first time in 20 years. The Kings, though, were the team that looked to be at home.
"They were calm, collected, and with that -- in control.
"So was Madison Square Garden, except quieter.
"The Kings' win was backboned by an absolute stellar performance from goaltender Jonathan Quick, who stymied all 32 of the pucks New York sent his way to post his ninth career playoff shutout, his second of the postseason. It was a remarkable debut for Quick on New York's hallowed hockey grounds, as he made his first career NHL start at MSG Monday night.
"Quick's mindset was simple -- 'You make one save, then the next one, and then you go from there,' he expressed to reporters following the game. Simple, just like the Kings played.
"The Kings' flawless start to the game defensively, paid off offensively in the final second of the first period, as they refused to give up on a waning clock. After quick netural zone transition, the Kings skated in on a 3-on-2, while the Rangers' back check was waiting for time to expire.
"Justin Williams found Jeff Carter, who was streaking to the top of the slot, with a perfect pass, and Carter snapped it home with 0.7 seconds showing on the game clock. Carter's goal gave the Kings a 1-0 lead heading into the first intermission. It was a devastating blow to the Rangers, who now had to find some sort of way to respond after such a gut-wrenching way to end the first period.
"The Rangers were muddled with two high-stick penalties in the opening minutes of the second, and the Kings capitalized on the latter of the two infractions.
"As Anze Kopitar controlled the puck along the sideboards during what was the Kings' second power play of the evening, he found Jake Muzzin open atop the right point. Muzzin, seeing plenty of traffic in front of Henrik Lundqvist's net, along with an open lane, fired a wrist shot toward the net.
"Muzzin's wrister banked off New York's Martin St. Louis and past Henrik Lundqvist, who was screened by Jeff Carter. Muzzin's goal gave the Kings a 2-0 lead with 15:43 to play in the second period.
"Later in the period, Mike Richards gave the Kings a 3-0 lead. Richards was on a 2-on-1 rush with Trevor Lewis, but failed to connect with Lewis on a pass. Richards' pass attempt hit off the skate of Ryan McDonagh, bounced right back onto Richards' stick, and the Kings forward chipped the puck into the net. Lundqvist was caught cheating on Richards' botched pass, and the Kings took a 3-0 lead into the second intermission."
"This was more our style. We grind away, get an important goal at the end of one (period), find a power-play goal. We waited for our chances, got a 2-on-1 goal (Richards).
"It's hard to go through all the games, but I thought he (Quick) was awesome tonight. All I know is everyone is talking about 'Quickie,' and he's a big, big part of the reason we're here because he's a goaltender who makes big saves at big times."
On the other hand, Lundqvist said the Rangers haven't been getting any breaks all series long, per The Los Angeles Times' Lance Pugmire. Lundqvist said,"At some point, you're going to have to need some puck luck and we don't have any right now. It feels like they have all of it."
New York forward Mats Zuccarello also spoke with Pugmire, echoing Lundqvist's sentiments and praising Quick's play on goal.
"He's (Quick) a good goalie, played well, got the bounces. It's a frustrating loss. To have that many chances, with those lucky bounces...we're down three-nothing, so we have to win four straight. We just have to believe it."
The Kings will look to win their second Stanley Cup title in three years in Game 4, which has an 8:00 p.m EST face-off, at Madison Square Garden on June 11.
Poch de la Rosa
Poch de la Rosa follows all major U.S. sports: NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and the NCAA. His favorite teams are the Colts, Braves, Pacers, Sharks and Irish, respectively.
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