Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Kings on verge of second Cup crown

NEW YORK—Jonathan Quick watched plenty of N.Y. Rangers’ games on television while growing up in nearby Milford, Conn. but it was always a tough ticket to get into Madison Square Garden.
Just once before he got on the ice at the age of 12 for an intermission PeeWee shootout, and then last night at the age of 28, the L.A. Kings’ goalie made a much more memorable appearance.

Quick blanked the Rangers 3-0 to put his team up three games to none in the Stanley Cup final—and one victory away from a second title in three years.
“You make one save and then you try to make the next,” Quick said with little excitement in his voice after arguably his best performance in these playoffs.
“We had a lot of guys that block shots, clear rebounds,” he noted.
“Our [penalty kill] was very good tonight, possibly the difference in the game,” Quick added.
“You just make one save at a time and try to get ready for the next one.”
Of Quick’s 32 saves, two of them stuck out. In the first period, he got his stick on a shot by Mats Zuccarello that went off the post and was bound to deflect in.
Then in the second, he extended his paddle to get a piece of Derick Brassard’s offering that could have been just what the Rangers needed to get back into the game—and perhaps the series.
Quick couldn’t remember what happened on either one. It was hard for anyone else to forget.
“He’s one goalie that can save those kind of things,” said Kings’ defenceman Drew Doughty.
“Not to say that we expect those saves from him, but we’re so used to seeing them because they happen so often that it’s just normal business.”
After watching Quick win the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP during L.A.’s 2012 Cup run, Dustin Brown isn’t even in awe anymore.
The Kings’ captain used to look up at the video board to figure out just how the puck stayed out of the net, but now he doesn’t even bother.
“The best example is playing at the Olympics and seeing other guys react to it, and I’m just sitting there because I’ve played with him long enough and he’s made enough of those saves you kind of expect him to do it,” Brown noted.
Quick did need some help—and got it with goals from Jeff Carter, Jake Muzzin, and Mike Richards.
Carter’s goal with just 0.7 seconds left in the first period stunned the sell-out crowd of 18,000-plus in the first Cup final game at the Garden in 20 years.
Carter’s seemingly innocent flick of a shot deflected off the skate of diving Rangers’ defenceman Dan Girardi before going in off Henrik Lundqvist’s glove.
“I was reacting low and it went high,” Lundqvist noted.
“It’s just one of those plays where, with a little luck there, that puck ends up in the netting or the glass.
“Unfortunately, half-a-second left and it ended up in our net,” he added. “It was a tough play.”
That goal marked the first lead for the Kings since Game 6 of the Western Conference final against the Chicago Blackhawks.
L.A. came back from two-goal deficits to win Games 1 and 2 at Staples Center.
“It was a little bit easier scoring first, obviously,” said centre Anze Kopitar.
“Scoring at 0.7 left in the first takes a little bit of wind out of their sails and energizes us.”
Despite 15 multi-goal comebacks already in these playoffs (an NHL record), a three-goal deficit looked daunting even as the Rangers outshot the Kings 32-15 overall because Quick appeared unbeatable.
Ultimately, he was.
“He was obviously the best player on the ice tonight,” Rangers’ coach Alain Vigneault said of Quick.
“Give them credit,” he added. “They found a way to put the puck past our real good goaltender and we couldn’t do it.”

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