The Los Angeles Kings were in a unique position in the Stanley Cup finals. Before the Kings visited the New York Rangers in Game 3 on June 9, they hadn't led for a single second in the Stanley Cup finals, yet held a 2-0 series lead. Yet the Kings finally learned how to play from ahead in Game 3, while Jonathan Quick remembered what it was like to dominate again, giving Los Angeles a 3-0 Game 3 win and a 3-0 series lead.
Fittingly, the first time the Kings held the lead in regulation came with seven-tenths of a second left in the first period. Just when it looked like the Rangers would get to the first intermission in a 0-0 tie, one sudden shot from Jeff Carter changed all that. Once Carter's last-second shot went off of Dan Girardi's skate and past Henrik Lundqvist, the Rangers' bad luck would snowball from there.
Jake Muzzin then got a power play shot to go off of Martin St. Louis and into the net, followed by Mike Richards taking a deflection off of Ryan McDonagh and firing it past Lundqvist. In the meantime, Quick faced 17 Rangers shots and stopped every one, showing signs of his 2012 Conn Smythe winning self for the first time in these Stanley Cup finals. For good measure, he kept the Rangers shut out when they out shot the Kings by 11-2 in the third.
Since the Kings were outplayed for much of Games 1 and 2 and won anyway, the Rangers' fear was that things would get worse once Los Angeles really got going. That fear was realized in Game 3, as the Kings not only took a lead for once and demonstrated how to hold it, they won with a two-game lead in a series for the first time in the postseason.
Los Angeles was as far away from the Stanley Cup finals and a second championship as possible almost two months ago, when it trailed the San Jose Sharks by 3-0 in the first round. Now it is the Kings that hold a 3-0 series lead at the end of the postseason, like they did in 2012 against the New Jersey Devils -- although it took two failed chances to finally lift the Cup that year.
The Rangers just want to put together one failed chance in Game 4 on June 11.