Hockey / Sports

Kings know well that even 3-0 series leads can be overcome

NEW YORK -- The New York Rangers face steep odds, but the Los Angeles Kings know more than anyone that coming back from a three-games-to-none deficit in a best-of-seven series is not impossible.

If history prevails, it is next to impossible when it happens in the Stanley Cup Finals. The Kings will go for a sweep against the Rangers in Game 4 Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden.

A team leading the Stanley Cup Finals 3-0 has won the series 25 of 26 times since the best-of-seven format was instituted in 1939. The only team to climb back from that deficit in the Finals was the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1942 against the Detroit Red Wings.

The Kings know all about climbing out of a deep playoff hole, even though it wasn't in the Finals. In this year's opening round, Los Angeles trailed the San Jose Sharks, three games to none, before winning the next four games.

The Kings also nearly saw a big lead evaporate in what has been a roller-coaster postseason.

Los Angeles led the Chicago Blackhawks, three games to one, in the Western Conference finals. The Blackhawks won the next two before the Kings clinched the series with a 5-4 overtime victory in Chicago.

"We know how easy it is to let teams back in a series and have to shut them down right away," Kings defenseman Drew Doughty said after Monday's 3-0 win at Madison Square Garden.

Doughty expects the Rangers to get a boost from an energetic crowd in Game 4. "We have to try to close it out as soon as possible," he said.

The Rangers, who began the Stanley Cup playoffs with a 4-3 series win over the Flyers, are naturally deflated to be in this situation.

"I am extremely disappointed to be in this hole," Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist said.

Despite the long odds, Lundqvist and his teammates aren't giving up hope.

"It's not over," Lundqvist said. "We are looking at getting the next game. That's all we think about right now is that win."

It will be over if Kings goalie Jonathan Quick duplicates his Game 3 performance when he made several spectacular saves in stopping 32 shots.

Quick was asked if he was close enough to taste another Stanley Cup title.

A man of few words, he had a simple response.

"Nope."

Quick did not want to compare this year's team with the 2012 Cup champions except to make one point very clear.

"The only difference is right now is that team won 16 1/8playoff3/8 games, and we haven't won 16 yet, so we're going to keep working," he said.

The team in the driver's seat insists it isn't overconfident. The one with the seemingly impossible task insists it hasn't lost its confidence.

The Kings scored three or more goals for the ninth straight game. They lead the NHL with 84 postseason goals, an average of 3.5 per game.

They are 8-5 on the road during this postseason.

Every trend seems to go in the Kings' favor.

Kings center Anze Kopitar, who leads the NHL with 26 postseason points, expressed the feeling of his entire team when he said, "The fourth one, is always the toughest one."

(c)2014 The Philadelphia Inquirer

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Distributed by MCT Information Services

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