- Mike Mazzeo, ESPN Staff Writer
- 0 Shares
The Kings are up 3-0 in the series -- and they want to finish the job Wednesday night.
"All it takes is one game, one momentum shift, and a team can run with it," No. 1 defenseman Drew Doughty said Tuesday following the team's optional skate -- well, massive soccer circle in the bowels of the arena -- at Madison Square Garden.
"That's why this next game is so important for us. We can't let them back in the series. We have to take it to them. They're going to bring their best effort without a doubt, and we need to bring ours, as well."
Two years ago, the Kings were up 3-0 in the Stanley Cup finals against the New Jersey Devils and lost the next two games before winning it all in Game 6.
Asked what the biggest difference was between then and now heading into Game 4, Los Angeles coach Darryl Sutter replied, "Game 4 was at home. There was a lot of distraction. I thought it was a lesson not just for our players, but for our whole organization."
Third-line winger Justin Williams explained in more detail.
"I think potentially maybe not for everyone, there were some issues that got us sidetracked a little bit," Williams said. "The thought of winning a Cup, being one game away, family issues, ticket issues, all of that stuff. That could maybe sidetrack you from the end result, and we've got the rest of our lives to see our friends and family and get them tickets and all that. You have usually one chance -- this is our second chance -- to win it and be remembered forever. That had a little bit to do with it, and obviously New Jersey not wanting to go away quietly. They certainly didn't, and we expect that the Rangers are gonna do the exact same."
Joked Sutter: "We try to keep our players in a little inner circle, which I still do. But the circle got a little bit of infringement."
That won't be the case this time around.
Los Angeles, of course, became just the fourth team in NHL history to win a playoff series after falling into a 3-0 hole just seven weeks ago against the San Jose Sharks.
"We're a team that's gonna respond," Sutter said. "The other team's gonna know they played you. ... We knew we were gonna win the series. It just took a little bit longer."
On Wednesday night, the Kings will play their 63rd playoff game in the last three years.
A lot has changed over that span -- especially in the personnel department. Key 2014 contributors Marian Gaborik, Jake Muzzin, Tanner Pearson and Tyler Toffoli didn’t play on the 2012 team, while Kyle Clifford didn’t play in the 2012 finals.
"I think we've grown a ton," Doughty said. "The experience, obviously, in my first run helped us a lot, but guys have gotten older, guys have gotten better. We've added pieces to the puzzle. And when all that happens, your team just becomes a better team. We live for the playoffs, we live for these types of moments. We're a great team. We haven't finished what we have to do yet, but if we continue this for as long as we possibly can, with the right guys, the right players, we have the possibility to go deep for many years to come."
Doughty is champing at the bit to get back on the ice.
"I can't wait to get out there," he said. "It kind of sucks that the game's at 8 o'clock and we have to wait around during the day. You just wanna get out there. We don't want to get over anxious at the same time, but it's fun to play in these types of games, so when the pressure's at that type of high you just wanna go out there, play your best as a team and win games. I just can't wait to get out there and get warm-ups over with and drop the first puck."
Throughout the playoffs, the Kings, it seems, have had the hockey gods on their side.
Three Game 7 wins. A 3-0 comeback. But then you realize the type of character this team has, along with the type of toughness, resiliency, depth and talent, and it all makes sense.
Only one win separates the Kings from their second title in three seasons and yet another chance to sip from hockey's holy grail.
Asked about being in consideration for the Conn Smythe trophy, Williams replied, "The big one is what matters. God, I want to taste it again."
• Defenseman Robyn Regehr, who has not played in the series because of a knee injury, participated in the team's optional skate, but it is unknown if he will return to the lineup for Game 4.