LOS ANGELES - When Daymond Langkow beat Jonathan Quick on a breakaway and celebrated Phoenix's first lead in the Western Conference finals, captain Dustin Brown was almost curious how his Los Angeles Kings would respond to the first serious adversity they've faced in weeks.
Their answer told Brown that this unbelievable bunch of Kings is almost ready to play for the Stanley Cup.
Anze Kopitar scored the tying breakaway goal just 2:07 later, Dwight King added the winner early in the third period and the Kings rolled to the brink of their first Stanley Cup finals in 19 years with a 2-1 victory in Game 3 on Thursday night, taking a 3-0 lead in the West finals.
Quick made 18 saves, and the eighth-seeded Kings improved to 11-1 in an undeniably charmed run through the NHL postseason by a franchise with 44 seasons of frustrating, Cup-free history.
For the third straight series, the West's final playoff team will play for a sweep in Game 4 on Sunday.
"Phoenix was a lot better tonight, but we found a way to win," Brown said. "That's what it takes this time of year. It's exciting. There's a lot of guys in here that haven't experienced this ... but the thing that's made this work is how we're handling all this. We're up 3-0 again."
Although the Kings trailed for the first time in nearly 18 periods since April 28, they bounced back swiftly before largely controlling the third period. King scored his fourth goal in three games against the Coyotes, who face a deficit only three teams have overcome in NHL playoff history.
King connected 1:47 into the third, beating Mike Smith high to the glove side. The massive rookie scored two goals in the series opener and added the winner in Game 2.
"Everybody is answering the challenge and being better," said King, who has outscored the Coyotes all by himself in the series. "We're playing good, playing consistent. With the way we're going, we're tough to beat right now."
Smith stopped 26 shots in a standout performance for the third-seeded Coyotes, who must win four straight to reach their first Stanley Cup final in club history.
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.
In front of a long-suffering crowd gratefully enjoying its unexpected good fortune after decades of disappointment, the Kings dominated the third period in front of Quick. They forechecked relentlessly in the final minutes, forcing Smith to play a long stretch without his goal stick because Phoenix couldn't clear the zone so he could retrieve it.
The crowd soaked in another memorable performance during the best playoff run by this Second Six franchise since Wayne Gretzky and Luc Robitaille led Los Angeles to its only conference title in 1993, while the Coyotes wondered if their own remarkable postseason run has any chance of continuing beyond Sunday.
"We want to play with a lead, but we didn't even have a chance," Phoenix's Mikkel Boedker said. "They got a breakaway and came right back. ... They're a good team, and we know that, but the series isn't over. We still have time to win it."
Los Angeles largely dominated the first two games of the series in Glendale, outshooting the Coyotes 88-51 while winning by a combined 8-2. Phoenix had no more luck than Vancouver or St. Louis against the surprising No. 8 seeds, who finished two points behind the Pacific Division champion Coyotes in the regular season before steamrolling the West's top two teams in a combined nine games.
"We'll take a couple of days here and rest up, and what have we got to lose?" Phoenix coach Dave Tippett asked. "We'll come here and play as hard as we can. We'll give a real honest evaluation of who we are and how we got here."
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Video: NHL from NBC Sports
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