"This was more our style," Kings captain Dustin Brown said. "We grind away, get an important goal at the end of one, find a power-play goal. We waited for our chances, got a two-on-one goal. Everyone's talking about the shot difference, and our PK was on the ice a lot, unfortunately, and that was a problem for us early -- actually all throughout [the] playoffs -- is our penalties. But our PK came up huge."
The Kings had played four straight games they weren't terribly happy with, the last two in the Chicago series and the opening two in the Cup finals, winning three of those four despite turning the puck over like we're not used to seeing.
On Monday night, the Kings committed 22 fewer giveaways (11) compared to the 33 they had in Game 2.
"This is probably the best game we've played since Game 1 at Chicago," Brown said. "We lost that game, but that was one of our better games. I thought tonight we had more of the same. It starts with our goaltender and out from there. He made a big save early on an empty net. That gives us a little second life and we find a way to grind a win."
Two years ago, a more inexperienced Kings team went up 3-0 on the New Jersey Devils on this same stage and then lost its focus a little so close to the finish line, losing two straight before closing things out at home in Game 6.
That experience will come in handy now.
"We can't get ahead of ourselves. That's very important," Kings star blueliner Drew Doughty said. "We were up 3-1 against Chicago and we let them back into the series. We could have lost that series, no problem. We know how easy it is for teams to get back in a series. And we have to shut it out right away. We can't let them get any energy from their crowd in their arena in the next game. We need to try and close it out as soon as possible."
Not to mention what they themselves did to the Sharks in the opening round. There is no chance whatsoever they'll be booking their trip to Disney World just yet.
No, a team that has played an NHL-leading 62 playoff games over the past three postseasons has too much institutional knowledge about what's at stake to take their foot off the pedal.
"We've been in this position before," Brown said. "Confidence, that's a part of it, but it's more about your will this time of year. It's resetting and reloading. I know that gets boring for you guys, but that's the truth."
Also noteworthy Monday night was the energy the Kings played with. They didn't look like the sluggish, fatigued Kings team that came out of the gates slow in L.A.
Sutter talked on Sunday about his team's depth being the great equalizer in battling fatigue.
That certainly surfaced again Monday night with Jeff Carter, Jake Muzzin and Mike Richards all scoring their first goals of the series. Matt Greene was sensational on the penalty kill. The Kings got minutes and contributions from everybody up and down the lineup.