Kings are power players

Shot-blocking came first, then the scoring.

Penalty-killing paved the way and the missing power play surfaced and joined the Kings’ Stanley Cup party, providing the hammer on the final two goals.

Guts before glitz, once more with feeling for the Cup.

This might be the best way to portray the Kings, at least for now, following their 4-0 victory over the New Jersey Devils on Monday in Game 3 at Staples Center.

Kings goalie Jonathan Quick had his third shutout of these playoffs -- a team record -- making 22 saves, and linemates Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams each had a goal and an assist.


In two days, there might be another description for the Kings: Stanley Cup champion.

The Kings are one win away from easing 45 years of franchise frustration. Wildly successful men (owners Jack Kent Cooke and Jerry Buss) and one of the best to play the game (Wayne Gretzky) all tried to get it done. None could.

It could all be over Wednesday after Game 4. The Kings could be first to sweep the Stanley Cup Final since Detroit did it against Washington in 1998. They are 15-2 in the playoffs and on a 24-4-3 run since they lost to the Red Wings on March 9 in the regular season.

“You don’t have time to think about things like that,” said Kings defenseman Willie Mitchell, who played a game-high 25 minutes 29 seconds. “If you’re looking at results, you’re wasting your energy on the wrong thing.”

They have had 3-0 leads in all three playoffs rounds, and only three teams in league history have rallied from a 3-0 playoff deficit. The first two games of the Kings-Devils series were tense affairs, with the Kings winning both in overtime, 2-1. This one seemed headed that way after a scoreless first period.

But there was one huge hint that Game 3 could be different. The Devils could not capitalize on the power play, including one minute of a five-on-three man advantage as the Kings put on a penalty-killing clinic.

“Our PK probably won us the game and our power play put it away,” Kings captain Dustin Brown.

The penalty kill and Quick kept them afloat until the offense arrived. Quick, who has stopped 70 of 72 shots in this series, was spectacular early and often.

Goals came from the familiar and unexpected. Defenseman Alec Martinez scored his first career playoff goal, at 5:40 of the second period, and Kopitar scored off the rush, at 15:07, his eighth goal of these playoffs.

The Devils and goalie Martin Brodeur were upset by what they thought was a quick whistle on Martinez’s goal.

Said New Jersey Coach Peter DeBoer : “Again, that’s a momentum-changing call at the time. I hope he’s right. That’s an awful big call if you’re wrong. I mean, my opinion on it, as soon as you lose sight of the puck, the whistle’s supposed to go.”

The first of the two third-period power-play goals came from Game 2 hero Jeff Carter, who was set up by linemate Mike Richards. Williams made it 4-0 about 21/2 minutes later.

An unexpected lineup change gave the Kings an emotional boost though, as Brown admitted, they didn’t exactly need one. Fourth-liner Brad Richardson was replaced in the lineup by forward Simon Gagne, who had not played since Dec. 26 because of a concussion.

Gagne played for 6:39, but there were bigger implications. The 32-year-old, who thought his career might be over, is one game away from getting his name on the Stanley Cup for the first time. Kings Coach Darryl Sutter told him after Game 2 to be ready.

“Everything happened for a reason, you could say that,” Gagne said. “It was a long process. Maybe it’s bad to say it, but I learned a lot from that. The doctors here, the trainer, all the people helped bring me back to 100%.

“I have to say 100%, not 95%. I was maybe 95% two months ago but it was not good enough for me and the doctor and the team. Now I feel pretty good and it means a lot.”