NEW YORK -- The gravity of the situation was etched on the face of New York Rangers coach Alain Vigneault. One more loss Wednesday night to the Los Angeles Kings and his squad gets the distinction of being swept in the Stanley Cup finals.
No team has been swept in the finals since Detroit did it to Washington in 1998, completing a run of four straight Stanley Cup sweeps. So while the Kings are trying to close out the series, New York's focus is strictly on moving past disappointment and getting back to L.A. for Game 5.
"We're down 3-0. We're all lacking sleep. This is tough," Vigneault said on a day of optional practices. "I didn't expect my players today to be cheery and upbeat. We're in the Stanley Cup finals and we're down 3-0. You don't get a lot of these opportunities.
"Excuse us if today we're not real cheery, but tomorrow I can tell you we're going to show up."
The only levity expressed after the Rangers were beaten 3-0 at home by goalie Jonathan Quick and the Kings was when Vigneault was asked what his team could do differently at Madison Square Garden.
"Score," he said.
The packed room of reporters laughed. Vigneault didn't.
The predicament makes it seem long ago that the Rangers led by two goals in the series opener, and then held a trio of two-goal leads in Game 2. Both ended with overtime wins by L.A. that sparked the Kings and demoralized New York.
Getting blanked in the first Stanley Cup finals game at the Garden since the Rangers last won the Cup in 1994 only made them feel worse.
"I do believe we can turn this around. I do," Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist said, "because we've been that close in every game."
Even in the shutout loss, the Rangers outshot the Kings 32-15.
The Kings know both sides of a 3-0 series. They trailed by that margin in the opening round of this postseason to the Sharks and then became the fourth NHL team to rally and win.
"We've been down a lot this postseason, we've been up, been in some exciting games, some long games," Kings forward Jarret Stoll said. "We just keep playing, trying to find a way to win. We've had some fortunate bounces."