Devils Stave Off Elimination, Defeat Kings 3-1

Hey, it's a series! And hits like this will continue. (Photo courtesy of Christian Peterson/Getty Images)

Despite the sheer dominance the Los Angeles Kings have shown over the previous three contests, one sort of expecting these road-weary Devils to show some fight at some point. Tonight they did. The teams combined for four goals, all of which were scored in the third period. The final tally was recorded by rookie Adam Henrique, who only has two series-clinching goals on his short resume prior to tonight’s game. His short-side snipe with less than five minutes to go sealed the victory and saved his team from a very early Stanley Cup Final exit.

It was Henrique’s fourth goal of the postseason, and arguably the third most important. Nonetheless, it’s responsible for a Game 5 Saturday night in Newark, New Jersey.

Coming out of the gate, this game almost looked like New Jersey’s for the taking when they were given two straight power plays in the first ten minutes. They were unable to cash in however, which seems to be little of a surprise for a Kings penalty kill which has only looked more impressive once before—during a league-high forty-six straight penalty kill streak in January of this year. The Devils mustered eight shots on goal that period, but an underwhelming three in the next.

Some highlights for the Kings after two periods including a speeding and seemingly 100% Simon Gagne with an impressive scoring chance of his own. The thirty-two year old forward had previously missed more than half of the regular season following a late December concussion. Game 3 was his first return to action in more than five months and it appears as though the veteran has all the tools available to become a key asset for the Kings here in the homestretch.

Also, Jonathan Quick continued his Conn Smythe campaign with eleven saves through two and a fair share of the usual breathlessly standing on his head routine.

Two battering and intense, yet scoreless periods of play gave to way to an especially exciting third. In the words of Doc Emerick, it was quite the Helter Skelter until the period’s final seconds. Scoring chance after scoring chance for both squads saw a number of pucks off the post, shots just a little wide and players like Dustin Penner slamming the bench gate in frustration after juuuuust missing cashing in on a golden opportunity.

Patrick Elias opened the scoring at the 7:56 mark with a rather dirty goal right above Quick’s crease. It was the first time in the series that the Kings had trailed on the scoreboard. But exactly one minute later, L.A. was handed a power play and Drew Doughty slapped a shot from the point that found its way past Martin Brodeur to tie the game back up.

That deadlock was broken up by Henrique’s theatrics once again nearly eight minutes later and the clearly ailing Kovalchuk added an empty-netter to put the game out of reach with just a few moments left.

The three stars were presented to Henrique, Doughty and Brodeur. The Stanley Cup was not presented. It will not be until Saturday at the earliest, and it may not be too early to remind those with hearts riding on the contest that Los Angeles has yet to lose a postseason road game. A win in Game 6 would cement this team’s place in the record book for most such wins, but also give them the opportunity to hoist hockey’s Holy Grail above their heads.

Fun Fact:

  • The Devils are only the sixth team in twenty-six times to successfully avoid a sweep in the Final. The only teams to come back from down 0-3 are the….nevermind, its way too early for that. (Although Adam Henrique was part of an Windsore Spitfires team that came back from that deficit to win the OHL’s Memorial Cup in 2010)

Conn Smythe Power Rankings:

1. Jonathan Quick

2. Anze Kopitar

3. Dustin Brown

4. Martin Brodeur

5. Adam Henrique