What a difference a few days make.
Back on Wednesday, the Los Angeles Kings were one win away from winning its first ever Stanley Cup. Now, three days later and two New Jersey Devils wins, the 2012 Stanley Cup Final has a different feel to it. Once again, New Jersey got on the board first, then retook the lead following an LA equalizer and eventually held on for a 2-1 win over the Kings in gave five at Prudential Center.
Zach Parise and Bryce Salvador were the goal scorers for the Devils while Justin Williams tallied for the Kings. Williams’ goal was the only goal let in by Martin Brodeur, who made 26 saves to help the Devils to within two wins of joining the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs, the 1975 New York Islanders and the 2010 Philadelphia Flyers as the only teams to win a playoff series after losing the first three games. Only the Maple Leafs’ win 70 years ago was for the Stanley Cup.
The Devils caught a break at the midway point of the first period, as they scrambled back to salvage a power play that only had about 20 seconds remaining. Kings’ goalie Jonathan Quick came out to play a puck, and he sent it behind the net. Quick however was not aware that Parise was coming in from his right side, Parise scooped up the loose puck and quickly fired it into the back net before Quick could cut off the angle to stake New Jersey to the lead at 12:45.
The Devils took the lead into the second period, but the Kings had their response shortly after. Justin Williams received a puck from Matt Greene and sprinted from the right wing. Williams, who had hit the right post back in the first 20 minutes, then cut into the middle and ripped a wrist shot that beat Brodeur upper net to tie the game at 3:26. The Kings had a chance shortly to grab the lead after Williams’ goal, as Jarrett Stoll had a breakaway on goal, but was turned back by Brodeur.
The Devils then surged ahead at 9:05 when a long-range attempt by Bryce Salvador from the right wing deflected off Slava Voynov and went in at the far post to reclaim the lead for the Devils. The Kings continued to fight on, and actually got the puck into the back net when Stoll batted in a puck in the air, but was easily waived off due to a high-stick. The Kings had a chance in the final minutes, when a 4-on-4 allowed the Kings to pull Quick for the extra attacker, giving them a de facto power play. Mike Richards had the Kings’ two best chances to equalize during that time, but Brodeur denied both attempts to preserve the win.
Game six is set for Monday night at Staples Center. The only question now is will the Devils bring the Kings back with them to Newark for game seven on Wednesday or will the Devils be making that trip back east by themselves after game six.