If you counted the New Jersey Devils out of this Stanley Cup Championship and moved your attention towards other things, it’s time you took a look over your shoulder to see what you’ve missed.
The Devils won Game 5 by a score of 2-1, Saturday night. The win at home comes featuring some interesting tid-bits of information. First, there hasn’t been a team since 1945 to simply force a Game 6 after trailing 0-3 in the Stanley Cup Championship. The Devils matched a 1945 Red Wings team who came back from 0-3 to force a Game 7 against the Toronto Maple Leafs. New Jersey is also trying to match a Toronto Maple Leafs team who forced a game 7 against Detroit and won the Stanley Cup three years prior to that.
Added to these, the Kings’ consecutive tirade of their opponents’ arenas was put to an abrupt stop Monday night. The Devils broke through the Kings’ record setting, 10-game unbeaten streak on the road these playoffs. L.A. did not let their streak go unscathed; they put 26 shots on Martin Brodeur’s net. Marty’s phenomenal reflexes denied 25 of those shots, and the road-tyrants that are the Los Angeles Kings are headed home to where they lost to the Devils in Game 4, Wednesday night.
On the topic of reflexes, Zach Parise displayed a bit of them scoring the first goal of Game 5 for the Devils. Amidst a 1st period penalty to Willie Mitchell, Jonathan Quick came out to the right of his crease to play a puck trickling into the Kings’ zone. After trying to relay the puck off the back-boards to Drew Doughty, the puck unintentionally caromed to the in-skating Parise whose prompt reaction nudged it between the right post and Quick’s in-sliding skate (12:45 into the period.) The power play goal was the only to go in for either team’s three chances, and it made a dent in the stellar penalty-kill percentage (92.1) the Kings have displayed to this point.
The Kings’ majesty would answer in the 2nd period. Justin Williams got his fourth goal of the playoffs at 17:34 with a wrist-shot from center that passed Brodeur. Williams’ game tying goal depleted another one goal lead taken by the Devils early on; a lead that provides hardly enough cushion to stay comfortable against this Kings team.
The Devils have to give Kings’ defenseman Slava Voynov some credit for their go-ahead goal in the 2nd period. Bryce Salvador, primarily identified by his stellar defense for the Devils, added to a surprisingly offensive postseason scoring on a long-distance shot that deflected off of Voynov’s jersey at 10:55. It is the second time this series a Devils shot has gone off of Voynov and into the Kings’ net.
Bryce Almighty, who has been God-size in clutch situations for the Devils, scored his fourth goal of these playoffs. He did not have a single goal scored during the entire regular season.
The Kings nearly drew themselves even with the Devils again in the 2nd period. Jarrett Stoll took a flying puck out of mid-air and put it into the net behind Brodeur. Stoll’s power play shot wasn’t credited as a goal, however. Officials immediately knew that Stoll’s stick was above the cross-bar when the shot was taken, and the 2-1 lead the Devils maintained would not be altered because Stoll’s high-stick revoked his own goal.
A scoreless 3rd period for both teams secured a win for the Devils who are now headed to Los Angeles for Game 6. The Kings, who maintain a 3-2 series lead, head home with their first consecutive losses of any series in the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs. They made “Quick” work of their west-coast opponents before meeting New Jersey. Though they built a commanding lead winning the first three games of this series, they have now given light to the idea of an iconic Devils’ come back.
The Devils, on the other hand, are now playing with exceptional urgency. They’ve made two lineup insertions in Game 4 that have modified their mode of play enough to throw-off what the Kings were used to in the initial three. Part of New Jersey’s success these last two games has been their defense, and Peter DeBoer’s decision to insert Henrik Tallinder has been part of the culmination of holding the Kings to only two goals in as many games. Petr Sykora is yet to score a goal in this series, but those paying close attention have noticed his speedy and continuous hustle to the puck; a necessity against this Kings team.
If there is to be any recital of Toronto’s historical, 1942 comeback against Detroit, the Devils are still two games away from completing the formula. They have gotten by one game at a time through their last two victories, and there should be no stopping that kind of boost to their demeanor for the next game. The Devils face the Kings in Los Angeles for Game 6, Monday night at 8PM, ET.
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