Los Angeles Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick has been surprisingly average throughout most of the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs, but he was literally unbeatable in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final on Monday night.
The former Conn Smythe Trophy winner made 32 saves for his ninth career postseason shutout in a 3-0 victory over the New York Rangers as the Kings moved to the brink of their second Stanley Cup title in the last three seasons.
Very few of those 32 saves could be described as “easy.” In the first period, Quick made a tremendous diving stick stop on Rangers winger Mats Zuccarello, who had a wide-open net at the edge of the crease.
With the Rangers down 3-0 to start the third period, Chris Kreider had a breakaway scoring chance off a set faceoff play, but Quick denied him with another stellar save.
Quick entered Game 3 with a .906 save percentage through 23 playoff games, well below the .946 mark that he posted in his dominant run en route to the 2012 Stanley Cup championship.
Quick struggled at the beginning of Games 1 and 2 in this Stanley Cup Final, allowing two first-period goals in each contest and forcing his team to pull off two amazing comebacks to take a 2-0 series advantage. But like all quality goaltenders, Quick has stood tall late in games when the margin for error is razor thin. The former UMass star hasn’t allowed a goal during the third period or overtimes of this series, and he has stopped the last 49 shots he has faced.
“Quickie’s been playing great for us all playoffs, and I don’t think he’s had a bad game,” Kings defenseman Drew Doughty said after Game 3, per LA Kings Insider. “He always plays well for us, and yeah, maybe tonight he was extra, extra good, and I think it probably was the best game of the playoffs for him. He stood on his head at times. Even though maybe his numbers aren’t the same as 2012, he’s played just as good.”
Not only is Quick locating the puck well through traffic, he’s showing off his incredible lateral agility by moving from post-to-post in an instance. This kind of athleticism has really helped him on the Kings’ penalty kill, which was a perfect 6-for-6 in Game 3 and now is 13-for-14 through three games.
In fairness to the Kings’ defensemen and forwards, keeping the Rangers scoreless Monday night was a total team effort. Los Angeles consistently won puck battles along the boards, did a great job forechecking, cleared traffic from the front of the net and blocked 20 shots. Quick was spectacular, but it was the team defense aspect of this game that made it so lopsided in L.A.’s favor.
Any hope the Rangers had of winning this series was destroyed by Quick in Game 3, and if the 28-year-old netminder gives his team a similar performance in Game 4, the Kings will become the first team since the 1998 Detroit Red Wings to sweep the Stanley Cup Final.