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Wednesday, June 6, 2012
Rapid Reaction: Game 4: Devils 3, Kings 1

By Dan Arritt

Stanley Cup finals

Game 4 (Kings lead series, 3-1)

New Jersey Devils 3, Kings 1

The good:  A trademark of the Kings in this playoff run has been their ability to strike back quickly. They did so after the first New Jersey goal but couldn’t work the same magic a second time. After both sides went scoreless the first two periods, the Devils took a 1-0 lead with 11:41 remaining in regulation. The Kings then went on a power play 56 seconds later after David Clarkson was called for boarding Dustin Brown. Anze Kopitar won the faceoff, passed it back to Mike Richards on the point and he slid it over to Drew Doughty on the opposite side. Doughty let go of a bullet that whizzed by Brown and nestled into the net six seconds after the power play had begun, tying the score, 1-1. For a few minutes, the goal ramped up the energy of the largest crowd to witness a Kings game at Staples Center.

The bad: The Devils went 16 minutes, 26 seconds between shots on goal from early in the second period to early in the third, and 139 minutes, 2 seconds between scoring goals in the series, but all that ended in a flurry of three goals in the final 11:39 of the third period. They potted their first goal following a slap shot from Bryce Salvador that nicked Kings defenseman Willie Mitchell as it traveled toward the net. That was enough to throw off goalie Jonathan Quick, as the puck hit his right pad and kicked to his right, where Patrik Elias was waiting to shove it in the net 8:19 into the final period.

Just over 7½ minutes after Doughty tied the score, Kings rookie winger Dwight King couldn’t handle a clearing pass at center ice. Alexei Ponikarovsky was there to poke the puck back into the offensive zone, where David Clarkson took possession. He slid a cross-ice pass to his left and Adam Henrique stopped it with his skate before releasing a one-timer that beat Quick cleanly for the first time in the series.

The Kings pulled Quick with about 30 seconds left and New Jersey ended all hopes of another comeback with an empty-net goal by Ilya Kovalchuck with 20 seconds remaining, sending the series back to New Jersey for Game 5 on Saturday. The Kings fell to 1-3 in Game 4s during this postseason, all with a chance to sweep each series. The top line had a tough night. Brown had five of the team’s 17 giveaways, Justin Williams had no shots on goal and three turnovers and Kopitar had no shots on goal and two giveaways. That’s two shots on goal and 10 turnovers for the No. 1 line.

The in-between: Kings left wing Simon Gagne, playing in his second game after missing nearly six months because of a concussion, was part of the two best scoring chances for L.A. through first 45 minutes. He was stopped by Devils goalie Martin Brodeur on a breakaway late in the second period, then stole a pass from Salvador just under five minutes into the third and passed it to Trevor Lewis in the middle, but his backhand swipe went wide as Brodeur sprawled.