NEW YORK — After a weird start to the Stanley Cup Final on the other side of the country, it felt like the Kings were due for an easy one.
They're too good. Their mistakes were too correctable. And on Monday night at Madison Square Garden, that came to roost. Sort of.
The Kings, in a game during which they were uncommonly outshot and outplayed at 5-on-5, pushed themselves past the Rangers 3-0. They're a win away from their second Stanley Cup in three seasons. Game 4 is at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday, and the Cup will be in the building.
LA's goal scorers were Jeff Carter, Jake Muzzin and Mike Richards. Jonathan Quick made 32 saves for the shutout. Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist countered with 12.
QUICK IS NOT DEAD
You're going to read a lot about Quick over the next little bit; he's a lightning rod, and he deserves to be. He's great some of the time, and decidedly not great at others, and his postseason has been uneven at best. His last two seasons have been uneven at best, in fact.
Still, on Monday, he looked like the guy who was lights out for the entire 2012-13 season, particularly during a 17-save second period that featured a couple show stoppers. Here are two angles of the same one. Poor Derick Brassard (via @PeteBlackburn). Click here for the first clip and here for the second.
When the Rangers signed Dan Girardi to a six-year contract extension during the season, it seemed questionable for one large reason: Girardi hasn't looked right for a while, and is at the age where lots of players start to decline for good. The way he's played during the postseason hasn't helped at all — and Monday night was no different.
What should concern Rangers fans about that most — maybe for next season, at this point — is that Girardi has been tethered Ryan McDonagh. McDonagh is one of the best defensemen in the league and signed through his prime. That's great for the Rangers, but the pairing has caused two problems: Girardi is almost certainly dragging down McDonagh, who'd be better served, for one, with Anton Stralman. And McDonagh is almost certainly carrying Girardi to an extent, meaning he may be even worse than he's looked.
Keep that in mind when you consider Los Angeles' third goal. It came on a rush started because of Girardi's bad pinch, then his failure to win a puck battle.
THA CARTER (GAME) III
There was a database malfunction that stopped the MSG scoreboard from displaying stats for most of the first period, so it would've been easy to assume the Kings' 1-0 lead at intermission was a mistake. Believe it or not, though, Carter got Los Angeles its first regulation lead of the series (and 229:15 overall, stretching back to Game 6 of the Western Conference final) when he beat Henrik Lundqvist with 0.8 seconds left.
Assisting on the goal was "Mr. Game 3" Justin Williams, giving him points in six consecutive playoff games. Just as impressively, it was Carter's 10th of the postseason and 25th point overall. It was also the 50th playoff point (24G, 26A) of his Kings career.
NOT TALKING TO YOU
We are on Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Celebrity Watch. It is going to continue. Apologies. The big winner from Game 3 was Bryan Cranstron, world-famous pretend drug dealer. After the MSG video board played the "Say my name"/"Heisenberg" exchange from "Breaking Bad," they flashed his face in the stands.
Better than that, though was Robert DeNiro, who was sitting behind Cranston on his cell phone and completely ignored for the first time in decades.
They gave him his facetime during the second.