Up 3-0, Kings not celebrating yet


NEW YORK -- Leave it to Darryl Sutter, Uncle Grumpy, to put it all in perspective when asked about his team keeping its focus just one win away from another Stanley Cup triumph.

"I haven't even thought about that. Really that has nothing to do with this series when you look," the Los Angeles Kings coach said. "I mean, hell, we got thrown under the bus by everybody on earth seven weeks ago, so ..."

Then after a brief pause, he looked at this intrepid ESPN.com reporter, who had asked the question, and for emphasis added while tilting his head with a crooked smile: "Right?"

Well, right indeed.

Seven weeks ago, after an overtime loss at home April 22 to San Jose, the Kings were down 3-0 in a first-round series and seemingly one game away from their season ending.

Now they're one win away from their second Cup victory in three years.

You sort of run out of ways to describe this incredible Kings team, right?

Three Game 7 victories, a perfect 7-0 in elimination games, a league record for winning three consecutive payoff games after trailing 2-0 in each. It's kind of mind-blowing.

Heck, Monday night's 3-0 shutout of the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden was almost boring in some ways, short of the kind of hair-raising drama we've come to expect from this Kings squad.

"The games have been so back-and-forth and nail-biting, I'm sure for fans, people watching the games," Kings veteran center Jarret Stoll said. "But we were feeling it, we were rolling our lines, 25-35 seconds [shifts], just keeping the tempo high.

"We controlled the neutral zone, we got pucks in behind their D and that was our game plan."

Oh, people will point to New York's 32-15 shots advantage, which is somewhat unrepresentative of the game given that the Rangers had almost double the power-play time, plus teams that get down 3-0 in a game always ramp up the number of shots out of desperation.

Still, no question this was Jonathan Quick's best effort in probably a month for the Kings, absolutely 2012-like in shutting down the Rangers.

All the Kings needed from Quick entering the Cup finals was to make sure he was as good as Henrik Lundqvist and not allow the Rangers star goalie to steal the series. Two periods through Game 2, it appeared that Lundqvist was getting the upper hand over Quick.

Six consecutive Kings goals later, not only is Quick holding his own, he has in fact outplayed Lundqvist to this point.

"I don't think he has to remind us too many times. We know what he's capable of," Kings center Anze Kopitar said of his goalie. "That's why we love having him back there."

Overall, this was very much a Kings-like victory Monday night, a more controlled affair compared to the sloppy OT wins at Staples Center to open the series.

"That was our hockey, our team tonight," Stoll said. "We wanted to get the lead and stifle them, come up with pucks, stay on top of them."

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