Kings aren't taking anything for granted
The Kings have already made history. They'd like to make a little more.
The Kings, by virtue of their 4-0 win over New Jersey in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup final on Monday night, have become the first team in NHL history to win the first three games of each of its four playoff series.
With one more victory, the Kings would claim the first Stanley Cup in franchise history.
"I'm sure I'll think about it tomorrow and tonight," captain Dustin Brown said after the game, "but you get to the rink, and it's kind of hard to explain the emotions, but you've got to come focused and ready to go. You don't really think too much about it. I think there will be added pressure, especially considering that we're at home, and the possibility of winning at home is pretty enticing, the opportunity."
The Kings know better than to take the fourth win for granted. For one, the Devils played well in the first two games and easily could have had the lead heading into the first intermission of Game 1.
Also, though, the Kings have been in this exact same situation three times in this postseason and lost twice. In the first round, against Vancouver, and the Western Conference final, against Phoenix, the Kings led 3-0, then lost Game 4 at home and won the series in Game 5 on the road. In the second round, against St. Louis, the Kings completed the sweep at home in Game 4.
"There's no doubt that it's a great position to be in, but at the same time, even though we're saying that, we've got to reset, refocus," defenseman Drew Doughty said. "We can't take anything for granted. It could have been two-nothing for them, before this game.
"If they win that next one, then all they've got to do is win three more. They have the momentum if they win the next one, so we want to finish it off at home in front of our home fans. Like I said, we'll just reset and refocus."
Brown is finalist for leadership award
--Kings captain Dustin Brown on Monday was selected as one of the three finalists for the Mark Messier Leadership Award, given annually "to the player who exemplifies great leadership qualities to his team, on and off the ice during the regular season." Brown, Ryan Callahan of the New York Rangers and Shane Doan of the Phoenix Coyotes are the three finalists, which are chosen by Messier himself. Messier also picks the winner, whose name will be announced at the NHL Awards in Las Vegas this month. Last season, Brown won the NHL Foundation Award because of his charity work in Los Angeles.
--For much of this postseason, the Kings have merely tried to tread water in terms of special teams. The Kings' power play has been unproductive while the penalty-killing has been stellar. In Game 3, they put it all together. The fact that the Kings went 2-for-2 on the power play, in itself, is amazing -- the Kings had failed to score a power-play goal in five consecutive games -- but it wasn't even the biggest part of their special-teams effort. In the latter part of the first period of a scoreless game, the Kings killed a New Jersey 5-for-3 advantage for a minute. The Kings went 6-for-6 on the penalty kill.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Before this game, it easily could have been two-nothing for them. It was a tight series, but at the same time, we're really confident with the team we've got in here. Now it's just about resetting, refocusing. Even though we've got one more to win, we've got to look at it as if we've got four more." -- Kings defenseman Drew Doughty.
--LW Simon Gagne returned to the lineup after an absence of more than five months. He replaced LW Brad Richardson and played on the Kings' fourth line alongside C Colin Fraser and RW Jordan Nolan. A top-six forward at the start of the season, Gagne was mildly effective -- seven goals and 10 assists in 34 games -- but then suffered a concussion on Dec. 26 and did not return for the rest of the regular season. Gagne, who has a history of concussion issues, had been doing conditioning skating and drills in practice in recent weeks and was cleared to play at the start of the Stanley Cup final, but coach Darryl Sutter had remained tight-lipped as to whether Gagne might play.
--G Jonathan Quick made 21 saves and set a franchise record with his third shutout in this postseason. Quick has four career playoff shutouts, also a franchise record. In three games in the Stanley Cup final, Quick has stopped 70 of 72 shots.
--D Alec Martinez scored a goal, his first career playoff goal. Martinez's goal meant that of the 21 skaters to appear in at least one game for the Kings in this postseason, 17 have scored at least one goal and 18 have recorded at least one point.
--LW Brad Richardson was a healthy scratch in Game 3 as the Kings returned LW Simon Gagne to the lineup. It's been an interesting postseason for Richardson, a fourth-line winger who started the playoffs with a trip to the hospital. Richardson underwent an appendectomy on the eve of the Kings' first-round series against Vancouver and missed the first three games. Richardson returned and scored a game-tying goal in the third period of Game 5 and was in the lineup throughout the second round and the Western Conference final, but his overall effectiveness had been waning a bit. In Game 2 on Saturday, Richardson played 10 minutes, 56 seconds, had one shot on goal and had a minus-1 rating.