Following Monday’s win over the New Jersey Devils to take a 3-0 series lead, the question was not if, but when the Los Angeles Kings would win their fourth game and capture their first Stanley Cup in franchise history. And why not, they had only lost two games at that point and Jonathan Quick was in the midst of the goaltending performance for the ages and simply looked unbeatable. I count myself as one of those who figured the fourth win was just a formality.
But, following the Devils second straight win in the series, a 2-1 win in Game 5 in Newark, and the question of a Kings’ Cup has returned to ‘IF’ and the teams seemed to have exchanged problems. After scoring the first goal in the first three games and getting just about every break, the Kings outstanding luck and first goals has shifted over to the opposition. The Devils first goal was a prime example of both as Zach Parise scored his first goal of the series, catching Quick out of this net by stealing his misplay of the puck and burying it before he could get back into position on the power play. It was the first time the Devils were able to capitalize with the man advantage in the series.
Justin Williams equaled things up three minutes into the second with an impressive snipe from the top of the circles. It lasted six minutes before the newly-found good luck manifested itself for New Jersey once again. Bryce Salvador threw a show from the point that deflected off of Kings’ defenseman Slava Voynov and past Quick for a 2-1 lead that Martin Brodeur would make stick. It was the second time that a goal for the Devils that deflected off the young Russian, this one far more costly than the first.
For the Kings, it was the first game they’ve lost on the road these playoffs, an impressive 10-1 record. They’re hoping they won’t have to play another road game this season but the momentum and confidence has heavily shifted in the favor of the Devils. And while they’re road record isn’t as talked about as much as the Kings, the Devils have won seven road games in these playoffs, including two series clinching games so this veteran team knows a thing or two about winning pressure road games.
And the series that people called a snoozefest now has a chance to provide the greatest drama that you could ask for. Never in the history of the Stanley Cup Final has a team come down from 0-3 to win the series. Now, the story line of this series shifts from one crease to the other as Brodeur’s oustanding performance, as he’s been since Game 3 of the first round series against the Florida Panthers, could lead to one more Cup for an amazing group of veterans, proving those of us who gave it to Los Angeles following Game 3 dead wrong.
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