Kings’ notes and quotes from Tuesday

Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick probably cemented the Conn Symthe trophy when he blanked the New Jersey Devils on Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final on Monday, stopping all 22 shots he faced en route to a 4-0 victory and his third shutout of the playoffs. Quick has given up only 24 goals on 478 shots in 17 playoff games.

“It started against St. Louis in the first game,” teammate Jarret Stoll said of the moment Quick emerged as the likely MVP of the playoffs. “I remember that sequence. Andy McDonald had a couple of saves against him backdoor. He had a wide-open net and he stoned McDonald. Quickie was there for us and kept the game 0-0 until we found our game, found a way to get the lead. He’s been great.

“Definitely against St. Louis, he was huge.”

–Gagne update

Kings coach Darryl Sutter wouldn’t say whether he would keep center Simon Gagne in the lineup in favor of Brad Richardson. Gagne played only limited minutes in Game 3 on Monday, his first game since Dec. 26. He had been sidelined by a concussion, but resumed skating with his teammates May 25.

“Well, he hadn’t played for six months and he played six months,” Sutter said of Gagne. “So, we will make that decision tomorrow.”

–The American Way

If the Kings win the Cup tonight, Dustin Brown would become the first American team captain to lift it since Derian Hatch of the Dallas Stars in 1999. Brown is a native of Ithaca, N.Y., and was a member of the 2010 U.S. Olympic team.

–Comeback Kings

The Devils are down 3-0 in the series, facing a daunting but not impossible task as they try to rally to win. Three teams in Stanley Cup playoff history have rallied from such a deficit to win a best-of-7 series, including the 2010 Philadelphia Flyers. Jeff Carter and Mike Richardson now play with the Kings, but were then with the Flyers.

–Is Kovalchuk injured?

There has been some chatter the last two days that New Jersey’s Ilya Kovalchuk is playing despite an unknown injury, which is why he’s scoreless so far in the Final after leading the Devils with 18 points, including seven goals, in the first three rounds.

“Yeah, you get this deep in the playoffs, everybody’s playing hurt,” New Jersey coach Peter DeBoer said. “You guys want somebody to blame for the situation we’re in. It’s not like that, you know. We’re working hard. We’re dong a lot of good things. It hasn’t gone our way yet. We’ve got to keep going.”

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Simon Gagne talks about his comeback

You have to feel good for Kings winger Simon Gagne, who returned to the ice Monday for Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final after being sidelined since December 26 with a concussion.

Gagne was determined to come back this year, but he was also mindful of not rushing back considering the long-range implications of head injuries.

Gagne spoke after Game 3 of the long ordeal of making his way back and the satisfaction of joining his teammates in their historic quest.

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Kings’ Simon Gagne back in the lineup plus other morning skate notes and quotes

Veteran center Simon Gagne, sidelined since Dec. 26 because of complications from a concussion, is expected to be back in the Kings’ lineup tonight for Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final at Staples Center. He could replace Brad Richardson as the Kings try to inject more offensive punch into their lineup. The Kings have scored only two goals in two overtime victories in the Final. The Kings’ power play has been abysmal during the playoffs, clicking only six times in 77 chances (7.8 percent).

Gagne, who has been skating since May 25, could help.

It remains to be seen how effective he can be, however.

Richardson has only one goal in 13 playoff games.

–Ice, ice, baby

Kings defenseman Willie Mitchell took a quick spin around the Staples Center ice this morning in preparation for Game 3 of the Final tonight. Handling the puck was easy again and the arena was cool, a far cry from the snowy conditions at the Prudential Center for the games in Newark, N.J. The heat and humidity in New Jersey last week did a number on the ice in the arena, especially for Game 1.

“It felt like Edmonton in the mid-1990s after what we went through in New Jersey,” Mitchell said of the ice conditions. “You could actually make plays out there. It felt great. There’s a good chance of having a decent hockey game out there. You don’t say that too often about the Staples ice.”

–Welcome back, Kelly

Kelly Hrudey was the Kings’ goaltender the last time they advanced to the Stanley Cup Final in 1993. He has served as a commentator on Hockey Night in Canada for many years since retiring, but he’s never lost touch with the Kings or his former teammates.

“I’m feeling very emotional,” he told a couple of reporters when he walked into the Kings’ dressing room this morning. “It’s been amazing. We had a pretty good team back then. It feels great to see the Kings have success again. I’ve been a big fan for a lot of years, watching them from far. I’m a big fan of (Kings GM) Dean Lombardi. …

“You can tell how excited I am. This is cool.”

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Kings’ practice notes and quotes

Tomorrow’s story tonight …

The Kings waited and waited and waited some more.

Veteran center Jeff Carter scored four goals in the playoffs before Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final on Saturday night in Newark, N.J. He even had a three-goal game against the Phoenix Coyotes in the Western Conference finals.

But until Saturday he hadn’t scored a truly meaningful goal for them.

Carter’s strike 13 minutes, 42 seconds into overtime meant he finally met the expectations placed on his broad shoulders when the Kings acquired him from the Columbus Blue Jackets in a deal before the trade deadline.

Carter chased down his own rebound, circled the ice until he found ample room to survey the situation and then whistled a shot through traffic, past Martin Brodeur and into the back of the net. At last, he put to rest the image of him as an indifferent player.

It wasn’t his first big goal in the NHL, but it was his first big goal for the Kings.

“Obviously exciting,” Carter said Sunday afternoon after the Kings returned to Southern California. “It’s a big moment in my career. It’s a huge goal for the team. I got a lot of texts, a lot of phone calls and whatnot.”

Carter’s struggles this season coincided with a trade to the lowly Blue Jackets from the Philadelphia Flyers. Carter and current Kings teammate Mike Richards helped the Flyers reach the Final in 2010 only to lose to the Chicago Blackhawks.

The trade to the Kings for defenseman Jack Johnson seemed to be just the thing to re-ignite the fire in Carter, but it took until Saturday for his new team to reap the rewards fully. It was Carter’s fifth goal of the playoffs and his 10th point in 16 games.

“I had a couple of goals,” Carter said, disputing a reporter’s notion that it took a while to find his customary scoring touch after the trade from the Blue Jackets to the Kings. “I haven’t scored at my normal pace all year.”

Carter had six goals in 16 games for the Kings after scoring 15 in 39 games for the Blue Jackets. He scored 33 or more in each of his last three seasons with the Flyers, including a career-high 46 in 2008-09.

–Power (play) outage

Yes, the Kings lead in the series 2-0. No doubt, they’ve seized control with two overtime victories over the Devils.

But there’s also the nagging question of their punchless power play. How much easier would they make things on themselves in Game 3 if they could click once or twice with the man-advantage tonight at Staples Center?

After all, the Kings are only 6 for 77 during the playoffs on the power play, including 0 for 3 so far in the Stanley Cup Final. They’ve spent more time chasing the puck than actually setting up and applying pressure on the Devils.

“I think it’s one of those things you should stay focused on,” team captain Dustin Brown said. “Our percentage is not going to be good regardless, but we have opportunities ahead of us on the power play.”

Kings coach Darryl Sutter also didn’t seem overly concerned.

“I think, first off, just because the technology,” Sutter said when asked why the Kings have struggled so often on the power play during the playoffs. “It’s pre-scouted right down to the inch. I think sometimes that can be an overload, too.

“I think penalty-killing becomes such a premium because it is part of the defense. Usually, the Final and the playoffs are lower scoring. Those instances get so emphasized by coaching staffs. There’s not much secret in it. Ever.”

–Working overtime

The first two games of the Stanley Cup Final haven’t been decided in overtime since 1951 when all five games of the Toronto Maple Leafs’ victory over the Montreal Canadiens needed extra time to settle the issue.

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Kings win in OT… again

Jeff Carter scored at 13:42 in overtime Saturday night, and the Kings beat the Devils 2-1 to lead the series 2-0. It’s heading back to Los Angeles, where Game 3 is Monday and Game 4 is Wednesday. The Kings could close this out at Staples Center. Jonathan Quick made 32 saves.
Another thrilling game with a thrilling finish, the Kings are in prime position to win the Stanley Cup.
Yup, I said it.

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