Sunday, January 21, 2018
Sports

Kings focus on finishing

NEW YORK — Two years ago, the Kings were in essentially the same position as now: leading 3-0 in the Stanley Cup final and needing one more win to wrap up the series and start the championship celebration.

Back then, they faced the Devils, who avoided elimination twice before Los Angeles clinched in Game 6.

The Kings have no interest in allowing the Rangers a similar chance this year.

With the lesson of 2012 fresh in their minds, the Kings' focus is on finishing off the series in tonight's Game 4 at Madison Square Garden rather than to go home for a Game 5 Friday and give the Blueshirts any hope.

"There were some issues that maybe got us sidetracked a little bit," right wing Justin Williams said Tuesday of the 2012 final. "The thought of winning a Cup — being one game away, family issues, ticket issues, all that stuff — that can maybe sidetrack you from the end result.

"That had a little bit to do with it and, obviously, New Jersey not wanting to go away quietly. They certainly didn't. They made us earn it, and we expect that the Rangers are going to do the exact same."

Kings coach Darryl Sutter noted that Game 4 in 2012 was in Los Angeles and there were "a lot of distractions" to deal with as everyone anticipated the team winning its first Stanley Cup. Among them were planning for which family members and friends would go on the ice with the players during the Cup celebration after the game.

They got a little ahead of themselves while the Devils still were trying to win the Cup.

"That was a lesson learned for some of us, not just for our players but for our whole organization," Sutter said.

And more recently the Kings reminded all that a 3-0 series lead doesn't guarantee victory. In the first round of this year's playoffs against San Jose, they became just the fourth team in NHL history to come back from such a deficit to win.

"All it takes is one game, one momentum shift and the team can run with it and the other team can be down in the dumps," defenseman Drew Doughty said. "That's why this next game is so important for us. We can't let them back into the series."

Around the league: The Oilers hired Craig Ramsay as an assistant coach. Ramsay, 63, was a Lightning assistant from 2001-07 including the team's run to the 2004 title. … The Rangers signed 21-year-old Czech defenseman Petr Zamorsky for two years, TSN reported. … The Blackhawks agreed to a one-year contract with Swedish forward Dennis Rasmussen. … Sharks forward Logan Couture had surgery on his hand that was injured during a fight in the playoffs. General manager Doug Wilson said Couture had the operation last week.

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