What a nail biter this was! Up and down hockey that finally saw the Devils come out on top! Every Devils player showed the grit needed to win a Stanley Cup Final game and the hockey gods treated New Jersey with a chance to play once more in front of their fans!
Both teams started this period with opposite goals. For New Jersey, it was to ensure they would avoid an embarrassment by getting swept whereas for Los Angeles, they would be seeking history in an attempt to win their first Stanley Cup in franchise history on home ice. With that being said, neither team sat back and it was good to see more of this from the Devils side since forechecking was a key aspect missing from that Game 3 debacle. NJ generated some strong chances but we all know how Jonathan Quick is a brick wall. LA’s chances however, really took my breath away. A chance by Kings’ forward Justin Williams hit the pipe and trickled across the goal crease and then before the period expired, a shot by Anze Kopitar had Marty Brodeur beat but thankfully the pipe saved the Devils again! Other than a scoreless tie, there were many penalties. For New Jersey, it was Zach Parise for tripping and Bryce Salvador for interference and for Los Angeles, it was Jarret Stoll for hooking and Dustin Brown for tripping. To be honest, while I wasn’t thrilled with the score, holding the Kings shotless for nearly 15 minutes is pretty darn impressive!
Since Salvador took an interference penalty late in the first, LA would start out with a power play which the Devils killed off effectively. After that though, it was simply a carry-on of the first period with both teams generating a couple of chances. However, there was essentially a role reversal in that now, the Devils were held shotless by the Kings for 14 minutes. The Kings’ best chance came when Simon Gagne went on a semi breakaway but could not find the back of the net. It seemed to be all LA at this point and even in the last minute, New Jersey looked extremely shaky. The only penalty in the period went to Salvador, again, for interference (he might want to chill with those). After the end of the second period, though the game was still scoreless, the Devils still couldn’t solve Quick and had gone 130 minutes without a goal.
The way LA was attacking made me think that “Ok… maybe I should start prewriting my Devils eulogy”. I will be honest I did right after the 15:43 point, where Trevor Lewis of LA took a great feed from Gagne. His chance just skipped wide past Marty but I could sense that the Kings were generating chances rapidly and inevitably one would trickle pass the goal crease. However, this is simply what I thought. I sure am glad I was wrong! At the 11:04 point, Patrik Elias found a fortuitous rebound and backhanded it behind Quick, who was just a tad bit slow to prevent that goal from going in! Elias’ 5th of the playoffs was assisted by Salvador and Dainius Zubrus. With all the hard work the Devils put in to this game to grab the lead, mediocre officiating once again, spoiled the Devils’ moment. David Clarkson was called for boarding when all he did was imply a simple push (if you ask me) on Brown. Nonetheless, the Kings went on the power play and a rocket from Drew Doughty beat Marty exactly a minute after the Elias goal and tied this game at 1. Doughty’s 4th of the playoffs was assisted by Mike Richards and Kopitar. You would think that the Devils were deflated but that is completely false! In fact they were even more resilient after the Doughty goal. With 4:31 to go, Henrique became a hero again as he moved in on Quick’s right and shot the puck top shelf! Though he didn’t show any reaction, Henrique’s 4th of the playoffs, assisted by David Clarkson and Alex Ponikarovsky, put the Devils ahead 2-1! Finally, the prayers of Devils fans were answered as NJ finally figured out how to shoot the puck high on Quick. With 2:50 to go, Willie Mitchell of LA took a high sticking penalty and though the Devils didn’t score on the power play, they had an abundance of chances that could have easily put them up 3-1. But, who needs a power play when you can just use the empty net? That’s what Ilya Kovalchuk did, scoring empty netter, his 8th of the playoffs, assisted by Andy Greene and Salvador, putting this game to bed! The Devils held on and win this game 3-1! Mark your calendars for Game 5 everyone!
Next Game: Kings @ Devils Saturday, June 9th, 2012 8 P.M. from Prudential Center on NBC
Key Notes: Looks like the Devils were going to have to make some changes. It looked like they helped. Peter Harrold and Jacob Josefson were replaced by Henrik Tallinder and Petr Sykora. Hopefully this tandem can keep it up! It also seems like the NHL is advocating its support for large market teams such as the Los Angeles Kings. That call on David Clarkson in the 3rd period was clear indication of that. Perhaps an investigation is necessary?
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