NEW YORK — Jonathan Quick watched plenty of New York Rangers games on television while growing up in nearby Milford, Conn., but it was always a tough ticket to get into Madison Square Garden.
Just once before he got on the ice at the age of 12 for an intermission pee-wee shootout, and then Monday night at the age of 28 the Los Angeles Kings goaltender made a much more memorable appearance. Quick shut out the Rangers 3-0 to put his team up three games to none in the Stanley Cup final and one victory away from a second title in three years.
“You make one save and then you try to make the next,” Quick said with little excitement in his voice after arguably his best performance in these playoffs.
“We had a lot of guys that block shots, clear rebounds. Our (penalty kill) was very good tonight, possibly the difference in the game. You just make one save at a time and try to get ready for the next one.”
Of Quick’s 32 saves, two of them stuck out. In the first period he got his stick on a shot by Mats Zuccarello that went off the post and was bound to deflect in, and in the second he extended his paddle to get a piece of Derick Brassard’s offering that could’ve been just what the Rangers needed to get back into the game and perhaps the series.
Quick couldn’t remember what happened on either one. It was hard for anyone else to forget.
“He’s one goalie that can save those kind of things,” Kings defenceman Drew Doughty said. “Not to say that we expect those saves from him, but we’re so used to seeing them because they happen so often that it’s just normal business.”
After watching Quick win the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP during Los Angeles’s 2012 Cup run, Dustin Brown isn’t even in awe anymore. The Kings’ captain used to look up at the video board to figure out just how the puck stayed out of the net, but now he doesn’t even bother.
“The best example is playing at the Olympics and seeing other guys react to it and I’m just sitting there because I’ve played with him long enough and he’s made enough of those saves you kind of expect him to do it,” Brown said. “It’s not shocking by any means. He’s been doing this all playoffs.”
Quick hadn’t been doing quite this in these playoffs. Monday night was just his second shutout in 24 games this post-season, but it was the ninth of his NHL career.
His stats during this run — a 2.80 goals-against average and .906 save percentage going into Monday — were hardly dazzling, but teammates were eager to give him credit for what had transpired before his masterful Game 3 showing.
“All I know is everyone’s talking about Quickie and he’s a big, big part of the reason we’re here because he is a goaltender that makes big saves at big times,” Brown said.
Quick did need some help and got it with goals from Jeff Carter, Jake Muzzin and Mike Richards. Carter’s goal with 0.7 seconds left in the first period stunned the sellout crowd of 18,000-plus in the first Cup final game at the Garden in 20 years.
Carter’s seemingly innocent flick of a shot deflected off the skate of diving Rangers defenceman Dan Girardi before going in off Henrik Lundqvist’s glove.
“I was reacting low and it went high,” Lundqvist said. “It’s just one of those plays where, with a little luck there that puck ends up in the netting or the glass. Unfortunately, half a second left and it ended up in our net. It was a tough play.”
That goal marked the first lead for the Kings since Game 6 of the Western Conference final against the Chicago Blackhawks. Los Angeles came back from two-goal deficits to win Games 1 and 2 at Staples Center.
“It was a little bit easier scoring first, obviously,” centre Anze Kopitar said. “Scoring at 0.7 left the first takes a little bit of wind out of their sails and energizes us.”