By GREG BEACHAM AP Sports Writer
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Jonathan Quick made 22 saves in his third
shutout of the postseason, Anze Kopitar had a goal and an assist,
and the Los Angeles Kings rolled to the brink of the franchise’s
first NHL title, beating the New Jersey Devils 4-0 in Game 3 of the
Stanley Cup finals on Monday night to take a 3-0 series lead.
Alec Martinez scored the opening goal, and Jeff Carter and
Justin Williams added late power-play goals as the Western
Conference champion Kings moved one win away from finishing one of
the most spectacular playoff runs in league history.
Eighth-seeded Los Angeles improved to 15-2 in the postseason and
jumped to a 3-0 lead in its fourth straight series _ a first in NHL
Game 4 is Wednesday night at Los Angeles.
Martin Brodeur stopped 17 shots, but the Devils couldn’t beat
the spectacular Quick or his penalty-killers, who turned aside six
power plays. New Jersey must accomplish just the fourth comeback
from an 0-3 series deficit in NHL playoff history to win its third
After opening their first Stanley Cup finals appearance in 19
years with two overtime victories in New Jersey, the Kings survived
another solid performance early in Game 3 by the Devils, who had
ample opportunity to take an early lead.
New Jersey has been pretty good in the finals, but nothing has
been able to slow down these Kings, who seem destined to become the
first No. 8 seed to win the Stanley Cup.
The Devils had never lost three straight Stanley Cup finals
games in the franchise’s five appearances. New Jersey hadn’t lost
three straight games this season since late February.
The Kings had to survive their early nerves from playing in
front of their title-starved fans, and they barely hung on at times
against the Devils’ dynamic forechecking in the first two periods.
They got another peerless performance from Quick, who has allowed
just 24 goals in 17 playoff games _ just two in the finals.
The Kings even got something from the power play that has been
their weakest feature during the postseason, going 6 for 77 before
Game 3. Carter scored his sixth goal of the postseason on a
splendid setup pass from longtime teammate Mike Richards early in
the third period _ and Williams followed 2:32 later with a slick
goal in the slot, practically blowing the roof off the sold-out
Martinez scored his first career playoff goal early in the
second period, and Kopitar followed about 10 minutes later with his
third goal in four games off a spectacular pass from captain Dustin
The Kings could celebrate their first title at home, but their
only weakness in this charmed postseason has been Game 4. They’re
10-0 on the road in the postseason, but failed to close out
Vancouver and Phoenix at home in Game 4s.
New Jersey largely dominated play before Martinez scored the
game’s first goal on a scramble in front of Brodeur, and the Devils
repeatedly dominated puck possession while creating six power plays
in the first two periods to none for the Kings. The Devils couldn’t
score against the Kings’ stellar penalty-killers in front of Quick,
who might have nosed ahead in the derby for the Conn Smythe Trophy
as the playoff MVP with another shutout.
Although the Kings have been improbably dominant during the
postseason, the Devils gave Los Angeles plenty of trouble in the
Kings’ two overtime victories in Newark last week. New Jersey’s
strong forechecking and Brodeur’s solid goaltending nearly
overwhelmed the Kings, who had to rely on Quick and their own
stellar penalty-killing to reach overtime.
The Kings needed their penalty-killing again in the first period
of Game 3 after Carter took a 4-minute penalty for high-sticking
Adam Henrique while Los Angeles already was short-handed. Los
Angeles killed one minute of 5-on-3 play before Marek Zidlicky
lopped two more minutes off the power play with a penalty of his
own to prevent a breakaway. New Jersey had just one shot to show
for all that advantage during the scoreless first period.
The Devils again dominated the puck early in the second period,
keeping it in Los Angeles’ end for long stretches, but Quick made
saves with everything from his blocker to his shoulder to keep the
But the Kings went ahead when Dwight King created a scoring
chance with a big hit, eventually hacking at the puck underneath
Brodeur’s pad in front. Martinez joined the effort with Trevor
Lewis and got credit for the goal when the puck finally trickled
in, scoring his first goal in his 23rd career playoff games. The
Devils complained play should have been stopped.
Late in the period, Kopitar extended the lead on a stellar rush
by the Kings’ top line. Justin Williams moved the puck into the
zone and found Brown, who feathered a cross-ice pass to Kopitar for
the Slovenian star’s eighth goal of the postseason, giving Los
Angeles its first two-goal lead since Game 2 of the Western
The Kings finally got a power play early in the third period,
and Carter found Brodeur’s top shelf with a pass from Richards.
Williams then caught the Devils’ penalty-killers napping, and the
celebration was on.
Staples Center was packed to the rafters well before Wayne
Gretzky took the ice for the ceremonial opening faceoff. Los
Angeles’ long-suffering hockey fans hadn’t seen a Stanley Cup
finals game since 1993, enduring two trips to the finals by the
rival Anaheim Ducks in the previous decade while the Kings moved
into their 44th season of existence without a championship.
The roaring crowd gave a standing ovation to Gretzky, the
driving force behind the Kings’ only other finals appearance.
The Kings got another boost from the return of left wing Simon
Gagne, who hadn’t played since Dec. 26 while recovering from a
concussion. Gagne is a seven-time 20-goal scorer in his first
season in Los Angeles, carrying ample playoff experience from his
decade with the Philadelphia Flyers, including a trip to the 2010
Stanley Cup finals.
NOTES: The crowd of 18,764 was the largest in Staples Center
history for a Kings game. Hundreds of fans in black jerseys
gathered in the plaza outside several hours before game time,
chanting slogans and carrying inflatable Cup replicas. … Gagne
played just over 6 minutes on 10 shifts. … Lakers forward Pau
Gasol, David Boreanaz, LL Cool J, David Beckham and Penguins star
Sidney Crosby attended the game.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)