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L.A. Kings are experts when it comes to 3-0 series deficits ... and leads, too

Jake Muzzin of the Los Angeles Kings celebrates

Jake Muzzin of the Los Angeles Kings celebrates with his linemates after scoring on Henrik Lundqvist of the Rangers during the second period of Game 3 of the 2014 Stanley Cup Final at Madison Square Garden on June 9, 2014. Credit: Getty Images / Al Bello

Falling behind 3-0 in a seven-game series never is recommended, regardless of the opponent. But doing so against the Kings, as the Rangers have done in the Stanley Cup Final, was a particularly bad idea.

The Kings are experts in this area, from both sides.

In the 2012 Final, they learned a hard lesson about being on the brink of a championship when they permitted the Devils to put a scare into them by winning twice after they had fallen behind 3-0.

And in the first round in 2014 the Kings learned coming all the way back is possible when they lost three games to the Sharks, then won four in a row, only the fourth team in NHL history to accomplish that feat.

They even have the only two players ever to do it twice: Jeff Carter and Mike Richards, who as Flyers in 2010 came back from 3-0 against the Bruins.

Both experiences led to the same conclusion: As much fun as it would be to parade the Cup around Staples Center Friday, the idea is to kick the Rangers while they are down and end it in Game 4 on Wednesday night.

The 2012 Final in particular seemed to resonate with the Kings Tuesday when they met reporters on an off day on which their key players did not take the ice for an optional practice at the Garden.

That year, they played Game 4 at home and now admit they allowed themselves to take their eyes off the prize.

"There was a lot of distraction," coach Darryl Sutter said. "I think it was a lesson learned, not just for our players but for our whole organization. We were trying to keep our players as a little inner circle, which we still do."

Then Sutter made a circle shape with his hands and said, "But the circle got a little bit of infringement."

Said Justin Williams: "The thought of winning a Cup, being one game away, family issues, ticket issues, all that stuff can maybe sidetrack you from the end result.

"We have got the rest of our lives to see our friends and family, make sure they have tickets and all that. We have, usually one chance, and this is our second chance to do it, to win a Stanley Cup, to be remembered forever."

Williams also credited the Devils with making the Kings earn it and added, "We expect the Rangers are going to do the exact same."

Which brings us back to 2014, and the Kings' series against San Jose, in which they were outscored, 13-5, in the first two games before losing Game 3 in overtime. The Rangers certainly have been more competitive than that, so the Kings have no reason to take them for granted.

Jarret Stoll recalled winning Game 4 at Staples Center, which put pressure on the Sharks to win Game 5 at home, which they did not.

"Exactly what we do not want to do in this series," Stoll said. "We want to have a killer instinct and play the right way, play determined, not let any of that stuff happen or think about it."

Said Drew Doughty: "We know how it can happen. All it takes is one game, one momentum shift, the team can run with it, the other team can be down in the dumps.

"That's why this next game is so important for us. We can't let them back into the series. We have to take it to them. They're going to have their best effort without a doubt and we need to have ours as well."

New York Sports