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.
A win on Wednesday night would give Los Angeles a 16-2 record this spring, matching the '88 Oilers for the fewest games needed to win the Cup in the last 25 years. It would be the first sweep in the Final since Detroit in 1998. A good omen for the Kings: They are the 12th team to win the first two games of the Final on the road; seven of the first 11 completed the sweep. A win on Wednesday would also make them the first team since the 2007 Anaheim Ducks to win the Cup on home ice -- an irony, considering that the Kings are a perfect 10-0 on the road this spring.
Perfect addition -- Jeff Carter hasn't filled the net since his arrival in Los Angeles, but he's proved to be the missing piece for the Kings.
Carter's sixth goal of the playoffs helped the Kings beat New Jersey on Monday after his overtime winner on Saturday gave them a 2-0 series lead. It was the Kings' 38th game since they acquired Carter from Columbus; though he's scored just 12 goals and 20 points in that span, the Kings are 28-7-3 since his arrival.
Something special -- The Kings' penalty-killers continue to be ridiculously good in the playoffs, and the power play may finally be catching up.
L.A. killed off all six New Jersey power plays in Game 3 -- including 60 seconds of a 5-on-3 advantage -- and is a perfect 12-for-12 in the first three games. Incredibly, the Kings now have killed off 64 of 69 opposition advantages (92.8 percent) -- and matched the five goals they've allowed by scoring five times while shorthanded.
The power play entered the night just 6-for-77 (7.8 percent), but scored on both of their advantages on Thursday night to improve to 2-for-5 in the Final.
The Devils, who set an NHL record for penalty-killing success in the regular season at 89.6 percent, continue to struggle on the PK in the playoffs. New Jersey has allowed 18 goals on 67 opposition power plays (73.1 percent) in the postseason after surrendering just 27 power-play goals in 82 regular-season games.
Just too Quick -- The shutout on Monday was the third of the playoffs for goaltender Jonathan Quick, the most by a Kings goaltender in one playoff year. Quick has allowed just 24 goals in L.A.'s 17 playoff games; for comparison, Pittsburgh surrendered 30 in six games in its first-round loss to Philadelphia.
In all, the Kings have outscored their opponents 49-24 this spring -- but the offense has been a group effort. The Kings have used 21 skaters during the postseason (Simon Gagne played his first game of the spring in Game 3); 18 have a point and 17 have scored at least one goal.
Game 3 snippets -- Quick had to stop just 22 shots for the shutout, but it wasn't that the Devils weren't firing away. L.A. blocked 17 shots and the Devils -- perhaps with Quick's brilliance in their heads -- missed the net 21 times.
The Kings came out banging in Game 3 and didn't stop. The Devils had 79 hits in the first two games to 67 for the Kings, but L.A. was credited with 55 hits on Monday to 32 for the Devils. L.A. captain Dustin Brown led the way with eight.
Los Angeles also won the battle in the faceoff circle for the third game in a row, going 30-23 on draws. The star once again was Jarret Stoll, who went 10-5 and is 30-15 through three games.