NEW YORK -- After a 3-0 loss to the Los Angeles Kings in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final, the New York Rangers woke up Tuesday to face the reality that one other team has come back from a 3-0 series deficit in the Stanley Cup Final to win: the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs.
New York's attempt to become the second began with an optional skate Tuesday at Madison Square Garden.
Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist was one of the few Rangers regulars to take the ice. With a night's sleep and a leisurely skate behind him, Lundqvist faced the seemingly insurmountable mission with poise and confidence.
"It was a tough day today," he said. "It was a tough night [Monday]. You have to move on. You understand how serious the situation is and how tough it is for us to try to turn it around. Now we're only looking at [Game 4] and we'll try to win that game. Then you take it from there."
When the Rangers play the Kings in Game 4 on Wednesday at Madison Square Garden (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS), they'll be staring at a reminder of exactly what is possible in the face of intimidating odds. The Kings overcame a 3-0 deficit in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, winning four straight against the San Jose Sharks.
"I think both teams know it's possible to turn this around," Lundqvist said. "They've done it and we know we can do it. It's not like we've been outplayed; that has not been the case. They've been good, but I think we've been playing pretty good as well. It comes down to a couple of plays that have been the difference in each game. But it starts with your belief and how you approach this game. They know it's possible and we know it's possible."
The majority of the Rangers regulars stayed off the ice Tuesday, instead taking a day to recover from the sting of their most frustrating loss of the season. New York outshot Los Angeles 32-15 in Game 3, and each of the Kings' goals derived directly from an unfortunate bounce. Los Angeles' first two goals bounced off New York players, and Mike Richards scored the third after Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh made a strong defensive play to disrupt a 2-on-1 break. The loose puck went back to Richards, who put the game out of reach with 2:46 left in the second.
The Rangers were coming to terms with the loss 12 hours later.
"There wasn't much sleep in this room last night, probably," forward Brad Richards said. "Today is a tough day. Your mind is racing at 1,000 different things that you can do differently. You get home tonight, get a good night's sleep, wake up and get right back into a game day. It's still an unbelievable situation to be in a Stanley Cup Final. We have to remember that. There's a lot of players that would love to be here. It’s not over."
After almost two months of reciting postgame clichés through these playoffs, Rangers coach Alain Vigneault was done talking. The only thing left to do is regroup, revisit the game plan and win Wednesday.
"Whatever talk you may use, at the end of the day it's about one game," Vigneault said. "That's as simple and logical and realistic as I can put it. We need to focus on one game and that's what we're going to do. Everybody is going to come out [Tuesday] and say all the right things. All that is just talk. What needs to happen is the actions on the ice. So far, I like the way we've played. We've played some good hockey but we haven't found a way to win. That's what we've got to do."