On a night the New York Rangers did a lot right and showed the resilience often reserved for their counterparts in the Stanley Cup Final, it wasn't enough. They had the chances and they had the fight when they trailed. They just didn't have the goals.
There was bad luck for the Rangers, but even when they got the right bounces, there was Jonathan Quick.
The Los Angeles Kings goaltender, with a Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe Trophy to his name, looked the most like the guy that won those awards as he has all postseason. Coming into Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final, Quick carried a .906 save percentage, or .040 worse than his Smythe campaign en route to the 2012 Stanley Cup.
His performance throughout the playoffs rightfully led to questions as to whether he would ever regain the form that carried the Kings on that magical run only two years ago. Maybe it's not sustainable, and maybe Quick will never reach the heights he did in 2012, but for Game 3, he was at that same level.
Quick made 32 saves to shut out the Rangers and help the Kings cruise to a 3-0 victory and a step away from the Stanley Cup.
In a matter of a funny coincidence, Quick also recorded a shutout in Game 3 of the 2012 Stanley Cup Final, with that 22-save performance coming after the Kings won Games 1 and 2 each in overtime. So it seems things are following the script rather well, though the Kings will hope to close out the series Wednesday night as opposed to losing the next two like they did against the New Jersey Devils two years ago.
Having grown up in Hamden, Conn., Quick idolized Mike Richter and the Blueshirts. Before Monday night's contest, he had never played as a professional in Madison Square Garden. In the same building his idols helped make famous around the world, Quick wrote his own personal chapter of greatness under the bright lights on Broadway.
"He was the best player on the ice tonight," Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault said of the Kings' netminder after the game.
As great as Quick was, the Kings were exceptional as a group despite what the shot count might say. Jeff Carter's goal just before time expired in the first period gave the Kings a lead in regulation for the first time since Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals. They never let it go.
Quick helped put his club in the position to get and hold a lead, however, when he made a diving stick save on Mats Zuccarello minutes prior to Carter's chance. The puck first hit off the post, but further deflected away from the net off the outstretched blade of Quick's stick.
Jake Muzzin made it 2-0 when his shot deflected off the outstretched glove of Martin St. Louis and past Henrik Lundqvist. That was actually the second Kings goal of the game to deflect off a Rangers player and past Lundqvist as Carter's shot deflected off Dan Girardi, indicative of the Kings getting the bounces and the Rangers simply not.
Again, Quick came up big with his team clinging to a two-goal lead, which has not been very safe for any team this postseason.
Derick Brassard had a golden opportunity to get the Rangers back in the game as a rebound slid right to him on his backhand. He let go of the shot, but again Quick got the paddle out and caught the puck clean with his stick. It bounced harmlessly away from the net and sucked the life out of what had been the Rangers' best stretch of the second period.
When Kings forward Mike Richards caught another fortuitous bounce off a Rangers player in order to open things up for a third goal, it seemed as though the game was well in hand. There wasn't anything New York could do to get back.
The Rangers didn't quit, though. Chris Kreider had a golden chance seven seconds into the third period when he used his speed to get through the Kings defense and got a shot on Quick, but it was an easy save for the goaltender from close range.
The door was shut already and Quick took hammer to nail to make sure it stayed that way.
Oddly enough, though the Kings were so badly outshot, Game 3 was arguably the best game they have played in this series. It was certainly Quick's best night as well. When a strong team game links up with a strong goaltending performance, the Kings will not be beaten. It's just too much.
They haven't gotten that out of Quick as much in these playoffs and have had to rely on scoring a whole bunch. Another night like that from the 28-year-old netminder and the Kings will be taking postgame laps come Wednesday.
Quick will not win the Conn Smythe this time around. He probably won't (and shouldn't) even get a vote, but for one night, he was once again the best goaltender in the world and now the rest of the Kings are one win away from again calling themselves world champions.