Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Rapid Reaction: Game 1: Kings 2, Devils 1 (OT)
By Dan Arritt
Stanley Cup Finals
Los Angeles Kings 2, New Jersey Devils 1 (OT)
The good: The Kings won their ninth straight road game of these playoffs and 11thoverall, thanks to a heady play by three of their best players. Kings defenseman Drew Doughty chipped the puck up the wall to Justin Williams, who drew both defensemen for the Devils. Williams flicked a backhand pass to Anze Kopitar, who was left alone in the middle of the ice. He reached to gather in the pass, went straight at New Jersey goalie Martin Brodeur, stick handling the whole time. Brodeur bit hard, sprawling to the ice and leaving Kopitar room to drag the puck to his forehand and score his seventh goal of the postseason with 11:47 remaining in the overtime. For the ninth time in this postseason, the Kings scored first, a good sign considering they won seven of the previous eight games when they drew first blood. The fourth line of Colin Fraser, Jordan Nolan and Brad Richardson was the best line all night for the Kings, and they came through midway through the first period. Richardson did most of the dirty work to keep the puck in the New Jersey end and Nolan picked it up from there, passing from behind the net to Fraser, who was camped in the slot. Fraser put the puck past Brodeur for a 1-0 lead and his first career playoff goal. The matchup of fourth liners was one of the keys to this series. The Devils came into the finals with nine goals from their fourth-line group, while the Kings had just two.
The bad: The Kings held the Devils without a shot on net for the first 14½ minutes of the second period, giving them a huge window to add to their lead and really silent the Prudential Center crowd. Unfortunately, they’ve had a tendency to take their foot off the gas late in the second period in these playoffs, and New Jersey made them pay. The scoring play began with a seemingly harmless wrist shot from the point by New Jersey defenseman Anton Volchenkov. Kings goalie Jonathan Quick made the stop, but the rebound hit Kings defenseman Slava Voynov as he battled to keep Patrik Elias from getting to the puck. The carom went straight into the goal with 1:12 left in the second period, tying the score, 1-1. Just before the play, Quick made his second sloppy turnover behind his own net, then laid on top of Devils forward Zach Parise before giving him an extra downward push and a taste of the ice. If Quick has any weaknesses in his game, it’s his puck-handling.
The in between: With 16:02 left in the third, a New Jersey goal was waived off by referee Dan O’Halloran after the puck had ricocheted through traffic to Parise on the opposite post. He had an open side of the net, but didn’t hit the puck cleanly, leading to a mad scramble. The puck didn’t appear to be completely secured by Quick, but the whistle had been blown before Parise tapped it across the goal line. Kings forward Trevor Lewis took a hard lick in the second period and stumbled off the ice. He took a brief trip to the locker room for repairs, but was soon back on the third line. Brodeur made the save of the game on Doughty with 7½ minutes left in third. Mike Richards had room to work but decided to leave the puck for a trailing Doughty, who had time to take a couple strides closer to the net. Brodeur threw out a two-pad stack and stopped the shot.