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LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Kings are facing a must-win scenario in Game 3 of their first-round Stanley Cup Playoffs series against the Vegas Golden Knights at Staples Center on Sunday night.

The Kings wasted a record-setting performance by goaltender Jonathan Quick in their 2-1 double-overtime loss Friday night at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. With the Kings down three of their regular defenseman including Drew Doughty Nick Boyle Jersey , who was suspended for a hit on Vegas’ William Carrier in Game 1, Quick stopped 54 shots to set a franchise record for most saves in a playoff game.

It was all for naught as Erik Haula ended the match at 15:23 of the second overtime to give Vegas a 2-0 series lead. Paul La Due registered his first career playoff goal with a power play tally for Los Angeles.

Despite entering the series with an advantage at the center position with veterans Anze Kopitar and Jeff Carter, Los Angeles has been stifled by the Golden Knights tenacity and speed. Vegas has prevented traffic in front of goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, allowing him to see the Kings’ attempts, limiting the number of dangerous opportunities at the Golden Knights net.

Fleury has stopped 58 of 59 shots, a statistic that if maintained will lead Vegas into the next round.

Los Angeles coach John Stevens minimized the tough double-overtime loss by saying his team now has to replicate what Vegas did in winning its first two home games.

“There’s momentum in a series,” Stevens said. “You can lose 7-0 the first night like the Philadelphia Flyers did and come back to win and it’s still 1-1. They won two games at home, a lot of people would say they’re supposed to win at home.

“Vegas has been a good team at home all year, so now we get to go home and get to work. It’s not devastating. We come in here to win a hockey game and we didn’t win. Because of double overtime, you just expend a lot of energy. It doesn’t matter if you win in regulation or in quadruple overtime. It still counts as one.”

Carter knows it is no easy task to beat the Golden Knights, who resemble far more like a Stanley Cup contender than the expansion team they are.

“They are a speedy, highly skilled team Stephone Anthony Jersey ,” Carter said. “They have no holes in their games and we need to be far better to create chances.”

The Kings will be boosted by the return of the former Norris Trophy winner Doughty and a possible return by another veteran defenseman in Jake Muzzin, who missed the first two games with an upper-body injury.

With Vegas in command of the series, coach Gerard Gallant expects Los Angeles’ best game of the series as his team attempts to put a stranglehold on their inaugural postseason series and wonders what effect the double-overtime affair will have on both teams.

“The Kings are going to come out real hard,” Gallant said. “I don’t know what Game 2 is going to take out of both teams. I don’t think the pace will be quite the same as it was because the guys are pretty tired and beat up from five periods of hockey on Friday. They are going back to their building and I am sure they are going to come out hard and play real hard. Los Angeles is a great hockey team. It’s a great series so far.”

Haula, whose game-winning goal was his first career overtime score, mapped out the strategy in the hopes of moving one win away from a series victory Sunday night.

“We just keep playing the same way,” Haula said. “We did our job at home and now we go there and go to their building. It’s going to be harder. They are going to be better and we know that. We have to be better and it’s going to be a grind for sure. They are going to come out really hard in their home building and that’s what you can expect. We have to be a little bit better again.”

Golden Knights defenseman John Merrill said he believes if his team maintains the style of play that has been problematic for Los Angeles, his team can emerge with a third straight win.

“We have done a lot of good things in the first two games of the series,” Merrill said. “We are a fast team and when we have everyone skating it is a very good thing for us. We need to continue to do the things that helped us win and add a little more to it.”

Alex Ovechkin is built like a linebacker with the motor of a steam engine and the mentality of a wrecking ball.

He can score like no other player of this generation and few in history and has the physicality to match. That was evident from his first NHL shift when he powered up ice and crushed Columbus defenseman Radoslav Suchy so hard it knocked out the stanchion between the panes of plexiglass.

Ovechkin at 32 is no longer the human bulldozer he once was, but his hard-hitting style never put a dent in his prime years as he became the fourth-fastest player to 600 goals . On Sunday in Pittsburgh, the Washington Capitals‘ 2004 No. 1 pick will be the first player from that draft class to play 1,000 NHL regular-season games Damon Harrison Jersey , a testament to his durability that is also difficult to duplicate in modern hockey.

”That he has reached 1,000 games this quickly is an amazing accomplishment with the way he plays,” Capitals owner Ted Leonsis said. ”These are big men, and the league has gotten faster but it’s also gotten much more fit, and that Alex has been able to span those generations and continue to play and be incredibly productive is really a historic feat.”

In 13 seasons, Ovechkin has missed more than four games only once and never missed more than 10. Take out the eight games for suspensions and the Russian winger has only sat out for injury 21 times out of a possible 1,028.

”I heard a couple years ago that he said he’s the Russian Machine,” longtime teammate Nicklas Backstrom said. ”That probably has something to do with it.”

Ovechkin brushed off an injury in his second season with the now-famous line, ”Russian machine never breaks.” Ovechkin has played through knee and back pain and finished one playoff series on a fractured foot, illustrating his pain tolerance while also avoiding the kinds of serious injuries that derail other players’ careers.

Goaltender Braden Holtby pointed out that it helps Ovechkin to not kill penalties and risk injuries in those situations while also marveling at how the Moscow native is built. His 6-foot-3, 235-pound frame gives him the tools to punish opponents with his body as much as his shot.

”When you’re big guy like Ovi, you’re not gonna be afraid to hit no one Trae Waynes Jersey ,” Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov said. ”And when people gonna hit you, they’re gonna feel it, for sure.”

When Barry Trotz coached in Nashville, he remembered players seeing Ovechkin down the hallway cutting his stick and whispering about how big he was. Ovechkin had that intimidating presence to him.

”Trust me, we had a lot of nervous defensemen,” Trotz said. ”We had a couple of nervous cats.”

Watching Ovechkin’s sometimes reckless play could have at one point made the Capitals nervous, too, because of how valuable he is and how important it is he stay healthy. In recent years, he has toned it down with age and as hockey has gotten faster with lower priorities on hitting.

”As soon as you get a little older, you realize when you have to get a hit and when you have to take a hit,” Ovechkin said. ”You can see right now in the playoffs it’s different hockey. Of course, every shift you try to do something out there Mike Hull Jersey , but in the regular year you don’t have to run around and hit everybody because if a game is 5-2 or 4-1 you don’t have to do it. Obviously you have to play smarter and try to do different things.”

Evolving his game as a scorer and a power forward has helped Ovechkin get to this point where he’s on the verge of leading the league in goals for the seventh time and reach 50 for the eighth time.

If Ovechkin, who still has Stanley Cup aspirations and three years left on his contract, maintains this level of durability and wants to keep playing in North America toward age 40, reaching 1,500 games isn’t out of the question.

”There are a lot of players that have played 1,000 games but not as many players have scored 600 goals,” Leonsis said. ”If he takes cares of himself – which he has been, he looks great – he can play a lot of years in the league.”



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