Here are three storylines for Game 3 of the Stanley Cup final between the Los Angeles Kings and New York Rangers on Hockey Night in Canada from Madison Square Garden Monday evening (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 7:30 p.m.)
The Kings lead the series 2-0.
For the second straight game the Kings fell behind 2-0 and actually trailed 4-2 at one point, but managed a victory in overtime. The teams will meet again Wednesday in New York for Game 4.
Can the Rangers make a series of it by winning at home?
Absolutely they can. Despite losing the first two games of the Stanley Cup final, New York played well enough to win both. Playing on the road the Rangers got off to quick starts and appeared in both games to be en route to upsetting the Stanley Cup favorites.
"Obviously we'll have our fans; the best fans in the world," Rangers forward Mats Zuccarello said. "But it's two good teams. I don't know how much it's going to mean. Hopefully the fans are going to be behind us and we'll get a good boost out of that."
Added defenceman John Moore: "We know are fans are going to be rocking. There's obviously advantages strategically that come with home ice."
That said, the Rangers are only 6-4 at home in this season's playoffs so home hasn't been as sweet as they had hoped for. The Kings, on the other hand, are 7-5 on the road in the post-season.
"Our guys are going to be real focused," New York coach Alain Vigneault said. "We need to hold serve. We might feel that we deserve a better outcome than what we have right now, but it doesn't matter. At the end of the day we have to take care of business."
Will Rick Nash contribute to a Rangers uprising?
Nobody would ever accuse the veteran left-winger of not trying, but at the end of the day the Rangers highest paid player has just three goals and 10 points in 22 playoff games; ninth best on the Rangers.
His defenders are quick to point out he plays a solid defensive game and that is fine and dandy. But the Rangers are not paying him nearly $8 million US a season to compete for the Frank J. Selke Trophy as the league's best defensive forward. They need offence from him if they hope to come back against the Kings.
Nash led all skaters from both teams with eight shots on goal in Saturday's double overtime tilt despite playing just 23:02. Clearly, he is getting pucks to the net; he just isn't putting them in.
The Rangers are not a high-scoring team. Defenceman Ryan McDonagh leads them with 16 points in 22 games while Martin St. Louis, the team's inspirational leader, and Derek Stepan each have 14 points.
Nash has no points in his last three games and it is hard to imagine the Rangers getting back in the series without a solid contribution from the former scoring ace.
Can Henrik Lundqvist steal a game?
Heading into the Stanley Cup final, it was obvious to anyone who has watched both teams perform in this year's playoffs that Lundqvist would have to be off-the-scale good for the Rangers to stand a chance.
Lundqvist stopped 40 of 43 shots he faced in Game 1 and 39 of 44 in Game 2. Not good enough.
If the Rangers are to win a game, he is simply going to have to be better. Given his team's scoring challenges, he has to keep the Kings to two goals or fewer for the Rangers to have a legitimate shot at winning. Lundqvist is a very emotional stopper and thus far the Kings have done a good job pestering him and getting under his skin.
At the other end of the ice, Jonathan Quick of the Kings only has to play good enough to give his team a chance to win. Lundqvist, on the other hand, has to steal games.
Projected lineup for Los Angeles:
Dustin Brown - Anze Kopitar - Marian Gaborik
Tanner Pearson - Jeff Carter - Tyler Toffoli
Dwight King - Jarret Stoll - Justin Williams
Kyle Clifford - Mike Richards - Trevor Lewis
Jake Muzzin - Drew Doughty
Alec Martinez - Robyn Regehr
Willie Mitchell - Slave Voynov
Projected lineup for New York:
Carl Hagelin - Brad Richards - Martin St. Louis
Chris Kreider - Derek Stepan - Rick Nash
Benoit Pouliot - Derick Brassard - Mats Zuccarello
Brian Boyle - Dominic Moore - Derek Dorsett
Ryan McDonagh - Dan Girardi
Marc Staal - Anton Stalman
John Moore - Kevin Klein
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