LOS ANGELES -- In the eyes of the Long Angeles Kings, the turning point in Game 3 came early -- when they successfully killed off the Devils' 60-second 5-on-3 power play in the first period.
"Greener [defenseman Matt Greene], I think I saw him block three one-timers from [Ilya] Kovalchuk," forward Dustin Penner said following L.A.'s 4-0 win Monday night. "He chewed him up and spit him out. You could just tell how much it means to the guys in this room. It just excites and pumps everyone up on the bench to watch guys go down and take a shot like that consecutively."
It was actually only two blocks by Greene on Kovalchuk, but you get Penner's point. Greene, Willie Mitchell and Jarret Stoll, playing in front of goaltender Jonathan Quick, limited the Devils to only one shot on goal over the entire 5-on-3.
New Jersey's best chance to grab a lead in this series came and went just like that.</p>
"We've had some 5-on-3s to kill and we've done a good job of communicating, knowing where we are on the ice and knowing where the threats are, where the one-timers are and where they are not," Stoll said. "Kovalchuk is a big threat for them and we wanted to lock him up. Quickie is going to have to make some saves. In a 5-on-3 your goalie is going to have to make some saves, and he did. We just didn't want to give them that great one-timer from a good position."
The Kings' penalty kill as a whole was again impenetrable Monday -- L.A. was a perfect 6-for-6 in 9:01 of power-play time.
Los Angeles hasn't allowed a power play goal in the series, denying all 12 chances for the Devils. L.A. has killed 48 of the last 50 power plays against and is 64 for 69 in the playoffs.
"We've been doing it all year. It is kind of a staple on our team," Mitchell said. "[Assistant coach] John Stevens has been terrific with it as far as details, and it has been a group that takes a lot of pride in it. We feel it makes a difference, and tonight it did."
The Los Angeles Kings made some history on Monday night. They're ready to make even more on Wednesday.
The Kings' 4-0 victory against New Jersey in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final was the 15th of the 16 they need to bring the Cup to L.A. for the first time in franchise history. At 15-2 through 17 games, they've tied the 1988 Edmonton Oilers for the best mark ever at this stage of the playoffs -- and they became the first team since the playoffs went to an all best-of-seven format in 1987 to take a 3-0 lead in all four rounds.
L.A. is showing the value of getting through the early rounds as quickly as possible. The Kings could win the Cup in just 18 games, the same number the Devils played in winning three rounds just to get to the Final.
The Devils won the series in six games, exacting a small measure of revenge for the 1994 conference finals when Messier's Rangers defeated the Devils in seven games and went on to win the Stanley Cup.
Messier was on hand Monday at Staples Center before Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final to announce the finalists for his leadership award, a trio that included the Rangers' Ryan Callahan, the Kings' Dustin Brown and the Coyotes' Shane Doan, and discussed his emotions while watching the Devils and Rangers renew pleasantries 18 years later.
"It was an incredible time," said Messier, who serves as a special assistant to Rangers GM Glen Sather. "A lot of our teammates were texting back and forth and talking during the series. I was trying to stay out of the way during the series. I really felt the players on both teams earned the right to be in that position and shouldn't have been overshadowed by things that happened prior to that series. My ship had sailed a long time ago."
One of the big reasons the Rangers fell short this year was Marian Gaborik, who played nearly the entire postseason with a torn rotator cuff and had just five goals and six assists in 20 games. Gaborik will be out five to six months while he recovers, meaning he could miss the first couple of months of the 2012-13 season, but Messier has seen him grow since signing with the Rangers three years ago.
"Marian Gaborik is 10 times the hockey player he was when he came to the Rangers," Messier said. "He continues to improve and continues to want to improve."
Despite the disappointment, Messier believes this year's deep run for a young Rangers team could pay dividends down the road.
"I think the last three years have been a real great spark for the team and the organization," Messier said. "I think Glen has really done a great job of getting some key people in the right spots. I think the year that we had this year is a culmination of what we had the last couple years. Going forward, I think this year, you can't quantify what it means for these players to play this string of playoff hockey, to feel what it's like to play that deep in the playoffs. Those are hard lessons to learn unless you experience them. From that standpoint, our team has taken a major leap forward this year."
LOS ANGELES -- Los Angeles in June is not exactly what comes to mind when thinking of crisp ice surfaces and fall-like weather conditions. But defenseman Willie Mitchell sounded giddy after the morning skate at Staples Center on a mild, gray Monday.
"I don't want to say it, but it felt like the [Edmonton] Oilers ice in the mid-'90s out there," Mitchell said. "It felt great. We could have a decent hockey game on our hands -- not too humid. It's cold out there, the ice is nice. You can actually make passes.
"You don't say that about Staples ice too often. It tells you how bad the ice was out in New Jersey. It felt really nice out there and guys were quite excited about it, and I'm sure the Devils will be as well. I think you'll probably get much more up-tempo hockey game because of that."
Both the Kings and Devils are looking forward to a smoother surface for Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final after they slugged through a humid Game 1 at the Prudential Center. Several players complained about the poor ice causing bouncing pucks as both teams had to play more conservatively.
It's a common issue with hockey in June, no matter the city or venue. Mother Nature seemed to be in compliance in L.A. on Monday as it was expected to be 69 degrees with 71 percent humidity.
A full building will affect the ice slightly, but the Kings players said a Staples surface that isn't known for smoothness felt good.
"It was a lot better -- which is funny considering Staples ice," captain Dustin Brown said. "We complain about Staples ice all year. Granted, it's a lot better when it's an empty building … I think it will be a quicker game because of the ice."
Said Jarret Stoll, "I think the temperature in the building is a difference, for sure. I noticed it during the skate this morning. We expect to be sharp. We expect to be crisp, and we'll go for there."
Home ice hasn't really been kind to the Kings. Their only two losses of the Stanley Cup Playoffs have come at Staples. They have outscored opponents 34-15 on the road and 11-9 at home. They have one power-play goal at home against five on the road.
Those five shorthanded goals by L.A.? All came on the road.
The Kings will otherwise look to feed off their home crowd. Although cavernous, Staples Center is known as one of the louder arenas come playoff time, and the adrenaline level can be elevated for players.
"You got to harness it," Mitchell said. "I think you can't play outside yourself. Just do what we do and do it hard, and kind of find that fine line where you don't get overly excited and use it to motivate you."
LOS ANGELES -- Kings captain Dustin Brown was the early favorite for the Conn Smythe Trophy but the New Jersey Devils have kept him off the score sheet in the first two games of the Stanley Cup Final.
Brown, who had seven goals and nine assists in the first 14 playoff games, had no shots on goal with four hits in Game 2. He said the Devils have been effective defending his line of Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams.
"I think they've done a good job on us," Brown said. "I think it's up to me, Kopi and Williams to make adjustments to be better. I think collectively we had one shot on goal last game, which is not good enough, individually or as a line. And that's up to me, Kopi and Will to find a way to better. I know I can be personally better along the walls. I'm sure if you ask Kopi and Will, they'll say they can be better."
Brown, of course, does other things that count. He had three shots and three hits and a blocked shot in Game 1.
"Brownie does a lot of things that people don't notice," Jarret Stoll said. "He's doing his thing. He's a player that can break out offensively at any moment. He does a lot of things out there that help our team win the game. Every facet, on and off the ice, he's phenomenal."
Devils coach Peter DeBoer said before the series, which the Kings lead 2-0 with Game 3 set for Monday night at Staples Center, that David Clarkson was a big-time goal-scorer. Despite Clarkson's missed chances in Game 1 and struggles in Game 2, DeBoer maintains that belief.
"Yeah, for me that hasn't changed," DeBoer said. "I thought Game 1, he was arguably our best forward. I thought he could have had two or three goals. He's a guy on the verge of breaking out, as is (Zach) Parise, as is (Ilya) Kovalchuk.
"I don't think it's any secret -- we have to score more than one goal. All those guys on that list have to find a way."
Clarkson had a pair of golden opportunities in Game 1, but never got his shot to the net on either of them. In one instance, Quick was well out of position, but Clarkson snapped his shot over the net and off the glass.
Rushed shots and overthinking, however, are two things that come with the territory when facing an elite goaltender like Quick.
"Yeah, he's a good goalie," Clarkson said. "The first one I let get away from me, was trying to go high. I thought maybe he was going to go down. I tried to go up high, missing that one. On the other, there was so much excitement when I saw the open net, I don't know if I hit the guy's skate or what happened.
"But, yeah, he's a goalie that definitely makes you think. You can't do that. This time of the season, we have to put it on net, get back to doing what made us successful and got us here today."
Parise put the puck into the net in Game 1, but did so illegally with his glove. Kovalchuk hit a crossbar in the dying seconds of regulation in Game 2. The two were put on a line together at the end of Game 2 and will likely start that way in Game 3.
"I feel like we had good scoring opportunities," Parise said. "Even in overtime, I know we had two or three good chances there, too. All in all, I thought it was OK. I mean, we didn't end up putting one in the net, but we had some chances. Hopefully we'll rebound tonight. We've played pretty well together all season. Hopefully tonight will be better."
MARINA DEL REY, Calif. -- It was a little bit before 8 a.m. local time Monday when Devils coach Peter DeBoer stepped to the podium in a conference room at The Ritz-Carlton hotel, which is about 30 minutes from Staples Center, the site of Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final.
"It's one of those things where I didn't really focus too much on it, to be honest," Salvador said. "It hasn't been that big of a deal."
It's a massive change in routine for the Devils in many respects. One, very rarely will a team eschew a morning skate unless it is playing on back-to-back days. Also, this was the first time the Devils boarded a plane since eliminating the Florida Panthers in the first round on April 26.
If the 37-day break from air travel isn't enough, Game 3 of the Cup Final is the Devils' first outside of the Eastern time zone since playing in Winnipeg on Jan. 14.
"We were pretty fortunate for two series to not get on a plane," Greene said. "It feels good to get back into this routine a little bit and get back on the road and get away from home and get back to being focused on just the single thing, it's the game. It's not that we're not focused at home, but on the road, there are a lot less distractions. I think it'll be a big plus for us."
"Hopefully it plays to our advantage, getting that extra rest and not having those long flights," Parise said. "Hopefully as the series moves on, that'll be to our advantage."
Despite the unique game-day schedule, DeBoer said the plan was to get his team adjusted to the Pacific time zone as quickly as possible.
"We had a later dinner," DeBoer said. "We tried to keep the guys up until 10 or 11 o'clock. I don't know if it's realistic, but you want to get on L.A. time as quickly as you can. That's our thought process."
Greene said not having a game-day skate at Staples Center shouldn't be a hindrance.
"I don't think it's that big of a deal," he said. "We had a good practice yesterday after we got off the flight, had good energy out there. Guys were upbeat and ready. It's not like when we skate out there in the morning skate, it's not like we're out there for an hour testing the ice anyways. You're out there for 10 or 15 minutes and done. Get out there in warmups, get a good warmup and be ready for the game.
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The Devils are down 2-0 in the series, but DeBoer liked the way his team raised its game in a 2-1 overtime loss in Game 2 after losing in the same fashion in Game 1.
"We seriously consider lineup changes," DeBoer said. "We've got some depth players, some big people that are available to us. The process we've gone through after every game is watch the tape and see who can come in or come out and make us a better team. We don't want to do it based on the situation we're in. A couple guys had good games last game, and just because you lost or you're in a 2-0 hole doesn't mean you make changes just to make changes. I don't think we're at that point. We don't need to panic and do that."
Defenseman Henrik Tallinder, who is healthy after dealing with a blood clot in his leg in January, made the trip to Los Angeles but will not break into the lineup. Rookie Adam Larsson, who hasn't played since Game 1 of the conference finals against the Rangers, will sit for the eighth straight game.
These are the lines the Devils showed at practice Tuesday. With a 5 p.m. local start time for Game 3, the Devils did not have a morning skate.
"They can't get into a game to try to impress their fans," Roenick told NHL.com.
The Devils, of course, will try to do all they can to make sure the Kings don't have an impressive night. Roenick says they will help their own cause if they get even more aggressive on their forecheck.
"You have to come with all your guns," he said. "You can't sit back now."
Last night was another close game, but we won again in overtime to go ahead 2-0 in the series. We have now four overtime games in the playoffs, and they were all on the road.
Overtime is do-or-die, and it can go either way. We've just found a way to win the game. Last night's overtime was very intense. I thought both teams played well. There were a lot of chances for both teams, and it was great to see [Jeff Carter] get that goal in the end to win.
After the game, it was a bit different than Game 1. We had to rush to get on a bus and catch a plane because with only the one off day in between games, we wanted to get back home as quickly as we could and it is a long flight. Everyone was trying to rush through their media stuff, shower and get to the bus.
It's not just going to happen on its own. We have to have guys commit to the areas we need to improve on. We're going to be better than last year but there is still a long way to go. But I really like the pieces and where we're headed.
— Sabres forward Tyler Ennis on the progress of Buffalo's rebuilding process