PHT Extra: Who should win the Conn Smythe Trophy?

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As you’ll see, we shot today’s PHT Extra perched high atop one of New York City’s many skyscrapers. It was surprisingly warm up there, and we weren’t scared at all.

Two questions for discussion:

1. Do the Rangers have any shot of coming back in this thing?

2. When/if the Kings win, who should receive the Conn Smythe Trophy — Drew Doughty, Anze Kopitar, Justin Williams, Jeff Carter, or Marian Gaborik?

PHT Morning Skate: Reflecting on Bylsma’s fall

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Today’s an off day after the Los Angeles Kings took a 3-0 series lead last night, so instead we’re highlighting some of the headlines from around the hockey world:

A look back at Dan Bylsma, what he did for the Pittsburgh Penguins, and his fall since the start with the 2014 Winter Olympics. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Jonathan Quick’s shutout last night was the first one at Madison Square Garden in the Stanley Cup Final since 1972. The Kings also became the first team since 2004 to win a Stanley Cup Final game despite recording 15 or fewer shots. (NHL.com)

Mark Messier talks about his involvement in a nine-rink facility being built in the Bronx. (Puck Daddy)

Jeff Carter became the fourth player in Los Angeles Kings history to score at least 10 goals in a single postseason run. Of course, Marian Gaborik is also on that list. (LA Kings Insider)

St. John’s goalie Michael Hutchinson kicked out 49 shots to even the AHL Calder Cup Final against the Texas Stars at 1-1. (AHL.com)

One level below that, the Alaska Aces have swept the Cincinnati Cyclones to win the 2014 ECHL Kelly Cup championship. (ECHL.com)

Coronation close: Kings blank Rangers, one win away from Stanley Cup

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LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Kings as close as they can get to hoisting Lord Stanley’s Mug.

The Rangers, meanwhile, couldn’t feel further away from it.

That was the story from Madison Square Garden on Monday night, as the Kings dispatched of the Rangers 3-0 in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final, taking a commanding 3-0 series lead to move within one victory of their second Cup in three years.

On a night of storylines, it’s hard to say which was more compelling — L.A. continuing its uncanny ability to grind out results, or New York getting absolutely deflated in what, heading in, was hyped as the biggest hockey game in the city in the last 20 years.

The acts of deflation were plenty, and consistent. Jonathan Quick took the air out of MSG in the early stages of the opening period, saving  what looked to be a Mats Zuccarello goal with his paddle. Then, at the tail end of the frame, Jeff Carter sucked further life out of the arena by scoring with 0.8 seconds left — to give L.A. its first lead of the series.

Even though the deficit was one goal, you got the feeling the Rangers were cooked.

Some of it had to do with that deflating feeling, but most of it had to do with Quick. The Kings goalie put forth his best effort of the Stanley Cup Final — and, really, his best effort in a couple of weeks, given his struggles in the Chicago series — finishing with a 32-save shutout for his first clean sheet since Game 5 of the opening series against San Jose.

While Quick was doing his thing, his L.A. teammates continued to add to their lead.

Jake Muzzin scored his sixth of the playoffs on the power play early in the second period, and Mike Richards scored his third at 17:17 to cap off the scoring for good. While this was happening, New York kept finding new ways to let the air out of the building — the Rangers went 0-for-6 on the power play in Game 3, putting them at 1-for-14 overall in the series.

For the Rangers, tonight’s game was the latest in a series filled with frustration and disappointment. The Rangers blew four two-goal leads in the opening two games in L.A. and couldn’t muster a win despite twice taking the Kings to overtime; on Monday, the Blueshirts failed to take advantage of a loud, partisan home crowd that seemed desperate for something to cheer for.

Looking ahead, the Rangers also now face the prospect of having to deal with a dialed-in Quick, who hasn’t allowed a goal in over 110 minutes of action.

For the Kings, tonight’s game got them to the brink of another Cup, and provided some symmetry. The script is eerily similar to how they won the Cup in 2012. — two years ago, they beat the Devils in OT in the opening two games before capturing Game 4 by a 4-0 scoreline; this year, they again won two overtime games to start the series before capturing the third, 3-0.

The 2012 Stanley Cup Final did end up going to Game 6, though, which begs the question: Will the Rangers find a way to extend this series on Wednesday, or will we see our first finals sweep since Detroit broomed Washington in 1998?

Video: Quick, Richards help Kings take commanding 3-0 lead

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The Los Angeles Kings are one period away from owning a 3-0 series lead against the New York Rangers in the 2014 Stanley Cup Final, even if the level of play has been much closer than the most obvious numbers might indicate.

In Game 3, it’s all been about getting some positive bounces and some positively brilliant play from Jonathan Quick. He added to his collection of great saves in this game with a beauty of a save in the second period:

Jeff Carter’s 1-0 tally with less than a second remaining could be argued as symbolic of this game, yet there’s also Mike Richards punching this goal in after another bounce went the Kings’ way:

The Kings hold a towering 3-0 lead going into the third period. The Rangers will need a blistering 20 minutes to even have a chance of extending this game and avoiding a 3-0 series deficit. It doesn’t look like Quick is going to yield in this contest, though.

Video: Carter beats the buzzer in the first period

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Before the first period, Madison Square Garden featured the festive atmosphere you’d expect from the first Stanley Cup Final contest it’s hosted in 20 years. Heading into the first intermission, the crowd was rendered silent by an absolutely stunning Jeff Carter goal.

The Los Angeles Kings enter the middle frame with their first regulation lead as Carter scored with less than second left:

Can the New York Rangers bounce back from this deficit? They have two periods to score at least one goal. If this series’ first two contests are any indication, we could be in for plenty of other twists and turns.