LOS ANGELES -- The Kings barely cracked a smile after winning Game Three last night in Staples Center to take a 3-0 series lead over the Devils in the Stanley Cup final. They weren't about to start celebrating today after an optional workout and a session with the media.
Los Angeles could become the first eighth seed to win the Cup. The Kings also could match the 1988 Oilers for the best record in the playoffs. Edmonton finished 16-2 in the postseason that year while being led by Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier.
"We haven't been very good in these situation," Kings center Mike Richards said. "We're 1-2 when [holding a 3-0 series lead]. It's something we have to improve on obviously. We still know that we can play better and be better."
L.A.'s approach is a reflection of no-nonsense coach Darryl Sutter, who arrived in December with a salty attitude and a strong work ethic. He has demanded the Kings keep things in perspective. He was a win away from winning it all with Calgary in 2004, lost Game Six on a controversial no-goal and ended up dropping Game Seven in Tampa Bay.
The Kings couldn't have asked for a better performance than the one they had last night, when they coasted to a 4-0 victory. They limited the Devils to just 22 shots and dominated for the final two periods. They're chasing their first Stanley Cup in the 45-year history of the franchise.
Only the 1942 Maple Leafs have come back from a 3-0 deficit in the finals. The 1975 Islanders and the 2010 Flyers came back from the same hole earlier in the playoffs. New Jersey last night looked more like a team bracing to get swept than capable of winning a single game.
"We're just trying to win a hockey game," said goaltender Jonathan Quick, the favorite to win the Conn Symthe Trophy as playoff MVP. "Same thing we've been doing for about eight months now. We're going to continue to try to do that. It doesn't count any more than the rest of them did. It's one game. We're just going to play our game."
--- Bucky Gleason