There an old adage in the NHL Playoffs that a team isn’t in trouble in a series until it loses a game on home ice. Based on that, the New Jersey Devils in now a full-fledged state of emergency as the Los Angeles Kings won another 2-1 overtime win in Newark to take a commanding 2-0 lead in the Stanley Cup Final.
Jeff Carter’s shot between the top of the face off circles beat Martin Brodeur stick side at 13:42 of the first overtime, ending another hard fought, hard fore-checked contest where both goaltenders played well enough for their team to win. The Kings have now gone a record setting 10-0 on the road during the playoffs, an impressive feat for a team that hasn’t had home ice advantage in any of its four series.
As expected, both teams came out playing much more like we’ve come to expect from these teams than they did in Wednesday’s Game 1. For the Devils, their eleven shots in the period were almost as many as they had the previous one. But, it was the Kings who cashed in one of their six shots in the first period as Drew Doughty collected a loose puck in his own end and led a one man rush up the ice punctuated with some brilliant stickhandling and a perfect place wrister to put his team up.
Giving leading Conn Smythe candidate Jonathan Quick a lead of any size has proven to be insurmountable for their opponents this postseason. Quick spent the next period and a half thwarting everything thrown in his direction. But, it was the Devils fourth line, which has been a huge factor for them in the playoffs, that were able to get one past Quick. Ryan Carter’s deflection of Marek Zidlicky’s point shot skipped off the ice and past Quick to pull New Jersey level just three minutes into the third.
One noticeable difference between this final and last year’s (beside the ratings) is much of the nonsense that cluttered last year’s final has been replaced by hard-hitting, clean play for the most part. Gone are the scrums after EVERY whistle for no apparent reason. Gone is most of the dramatic diving (most of it, let’s face it, every team dives to a certain extent) that made last year’s a little hard to stomach as someone who likes his hockey without much of that stuff. I know I might be in the minority, as the ratings have dipped in the US from last year, but I’d much rather see what we’ve seen in these two games than much of what we saw in seven last year, where I was rooting more for the offseason than I was any of the two teams involved. Just seems cruel that this series is likely not going seven games.
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