It looks like the fat lady should start warming up her singing voice as far as the 2014 Stanley Cup Finals go. The Los Angeles Kings shut out the New York Rangers 3-0 at Madison Square Garden on Monday and now own a 3-0 stranglehold on the series.
What sank the Rangers in Game 3 was a combination of outstanding goaltending by Kings goalie Jonathan Quick and the Rangers’ lack of ability to finish chances. While the Kings appeared to have dominated the game from looking at the score, the pressure was in Los Angeles’ end for large chunks of time throughout the game. New York finished the game with more than double the shots than LA, outshooting them 32-15.
There’s no denying that Quick played spectacularly, but the Rangers needed to convert on some of their grade-A scoring chances. There were plenty of missed opportunities, as the most memorable one came early in the game before any goals had been scored. A lunging Quick denied Mats Zuccarello on the doorstep, but there was so much room that Zuccarello had to find a way to get the puck through. Quick made the better play and the Rangers failed to take the lead.
Although this series has been full of unlikely comebacks, there was the feeling that New York needed to score first. They didn’t score first — they didn’t score at all. Zuccarello’s chance in the first period was the most notable of the missed chances, but there were plenty of other examples of the Rangers failing to finish. The team also squandered all six power play opportunities against the Kings.
All but three Ranger skaters had at least one shot on goal. The Rangers did well to push back and establish pressure after falling behind by multiple goals. Unfortunately, pressure doesn’t mean much if you don’t eventually make the opposition pay in the form of goals.
The problem was evident because the Kings showed what can happen if you make the most of your quality chances. The Kings got many less chances than the Rangers and only mustered up 15 shots against Henrik Lundqvist, but they didn’t falter when they got a good look to score.
Lundqvist’s 12 saves tied his second-lowest save total in his 90 career playoff games. There are so many elements to breaking a hockey game down, but in Game 3’s case, it’s as simple as saying that New York didn’t cash in on quality chances and Los Angeles did.
Not only are the Rangers in an overwhelming 3-0 hole, but all three losses have been extremely tough to swallow. The Kings know better than any team that a 3-0 lead isn’t a sure thing, but it’s going to take everything New York has to just steal one win against this resilient Kings team.