New York Hockey: Stanley Cup finals

Rapid Reaction: Kings 6, Devils 1

June, 11, 2012
6/11/12
10:48
PM ET


Recap | Box score | Photos

What it means: The Devils' season came to an end with a 6-1 loss to the Kings in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals on Monday night, and no one will feel worse about it than New Jersey fourth-liner Steve Bernier.

Bernier's first-period hit on defenseman Rob Scuderi led to a five-minute Kings power play that resulted in three goals in the span of 3:58. The Devils rallied back from a 3-0 series deficit to fuel their long-shot comeback hopes against the dominant Kings, but they couldn't recover from the spirit-sapping, three-goal hole at Staples Center.

Rookie Adam Henrique scored the Devils' lone goal, but the Kings scored twice more late in the third period for the first Stanley Cup in franchise history.

Bad move by Bernier: Bernier's reckless hit midway through the first period will likely go down as one of the most infamous moments in Devils history. The Kings went on to score three goals on the five-minute power play awarded after Bernier crushed Scuderi into the boards 10:10 into play and earned himself a five-minute boarding major and automatic game misconduct.

Kings captain Dustin Brown got his team on the board with a tip-in at 11:03 and Jeff Carter made it 2-0 with a deflection less than two minutes later. Trevor Lewis added a third goal for a 3-0 lead that sent the Staples Center crowd into a frenzy at 15:01.

Although he remained down on the ice for several minutes and left the game with a bloodied face, Scuderi returned to begin the second period.

Carter's coronation: Carter rattled off his second goal of the night with a wrister from the slot that beat Brodeur for a staggering 4-0 Kings lead at 1:30. The 27-year-old center, a crucial trade-deadline acquisition for the Kings in February, finished with eight goals during the dominant Cup run.

Captain America: Brown became the first American-born captain to win the Stanley Cup since Derian Hatcher hoisted the trophy for the Dallas Stars in 1999. Brown's power-play marker was his first goal of the series.

Long night for Brodeur: After outshining Quick in Games 4 and 5, Brodeur's phenomenal playoff performance came to a bitter end as the Kings poured on six goals in their Cup-clinching victory. According to ESPN Stats and Info, it was only the second time in his playoff career that he has surrendered three or more power-play goals.

Missed call: Only seconds before Bernier's game-changing hit, fellow fourth-liner Stephen Gionta got hammered into the bench by Jarret Stoll, a hit the Devils bench believed warranted a call. Stoll received no penalty on the play. The Devils also appeared livid that a collision between linesman Pierre Racicot and defenseman Anton Volchenkov interfered with play on Carter's second-period goal.

Fourth-line fallout: The Devils' heart-and-soul fourth line was the story once again, but for all the wrong reasons. With Bernier already tossed from the game, Ryan Carter was slapped with a two-minute roughing penalty and 10-minute misconduct for taking down Jonathan Quick during the second period. Later in the frame, Gionta was struck him in the face by Petr Sykora's shot, although he remained in the game.

W2W4: Game 6, Devils vs. Kings

June, 11, 2012
6/11/12
1:27
PM ET


At a glance: Two times the Kings have had the chance to finish off the Devils and both times they have failed. After falling behind in a 3-0 hole, the Devils have recorded two straight wins to send the series back to Los Angeles and shift the pressure to the Kings for Game 6 on Monday night.

Can the Devils postpone the party once again?

Plenty of people wrote New Jersey off early in the series, but the Devils still feel they have unfinished business.

Said captain Zach Parise: “I don’t see any reason we should be over-confident or satisfied. We’re still down 3-2.”

Losing focus: Kings defenseman Drew Doughty openly admitted his team was guilty of looking ahead the last time they had a chance to clinch the Cup at home. He said the influx of family and friends was a distraction as they were looking to sweep in Game 4 at Staples Center. Doughty vowed that the Kings won’t make a similar mistake this time, calling it “a lesson learned.”

Brodeur at best: 40-year-old Martin Brodeur isn’t showing any signs of aging. The Devils veteran goaltender has seemed to find another gear in the playoffs -- and in the Cup final, especially. In a series where L.A.’s resident Vezina finalist Jonathan Quick has garnered most of the attention, Brodeur is stealing back the spotlight with some of his finest saves of the season. The three-time Cup winner has surrendered only two goals in the last two games.

More snarl to series: In a series that has been physical but otherwise pretty civil, things got a little nastier in Game 5. A post-whistle scrum even led one Kings player to pull Brodeur’s jersey over his head as tempers flared in the third period.

“When you play a team five times in a week-and-a-half, it’s going to get a little more heated,” Kings forward Mike Richards said Sunday.

Cooler heads: With the series tight at 3-2, discipline will be paramount for the Devils. New Jersey’s penalty-killing unit lost a bit of swagger early in the playoffs and almost paid dearly for it. The Devils have given up 19 goals in 73 times shorthanded (74%), compared with a staggering 89.6% success rate that led the league during the regular season.

If it ain’t broke: There will be no lineup changes for the Devils on Monday night, according to coach Pete DeBoer.

Gut-check time: Statistics can change on a dime this time of year -- Game 5 snapped both the Kings' 10-0 road record and the Devils' 0-for-15 power-play skid -- but the Devils want to keep an important one intact: They are 4-0 when facing elimination games this postseason.

Zilch for Zach? Time for a new topic

June, 10, 2012
6/10/12
2:29
AM ET


NEWARK, N.J. -- At one point during his postgame news conference Saturday night, New Jersey Devils captain Zach Parise tugged at the knot of his tie and tried to loosen it a bit.

After steeling himself with a clenched jaw for the past 10 days while answering an incessant wave of questions about his lack of production, Parise might be able to finally relax a bit.

Held off the scoresheet in the first four games of the Stanley Cup finals, the 27-year-old winger tallied his first goal of the series in the Devils' 2-1 win over the Los Angeles Kings in Game 5 on Saturday.

Finally, a chance to silence the critics.

"I think you guys just pissed him off, that's all," Devils coach Pete DeBoer said with a laugh. "Keep doing it."

Click here for the full story.

The name's Salvador, Bryce Salvador

June, 10, 2012
6/10/12
2:25
AM ET


NEWARK, N.J. -- Bryce Salvador may have been a so-called "no-name defenseman" going into the Stanley Cup finals.

He isn't anymore.

"I don't know how you couldn't know him," fellow blueliner Mark Fayne said after Salvador scored the decisive goal in Game 5, the New Jersey Devils' 2-1 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday.

"If you watch any highlights from the playoffs, he's gonna be on them. He's just been a horse for us."

Salvador, 36, has been known throughout his decade-long career as a stay-at-home defenseman, always making the intangible plays -- blocking shots, closing off offensive players on the rush or killing penalties -- that don't show up in the box score.

But ever since the 2012 playoffs began, Salvador has added a never-before-seen offensive dimension to his game. And that dimension was on full display Saturday night.

With 10:55 remaining in the second period and the score tied at 1, Salvador patiently waited for a shooting lane to open before firing a wrist shot from the left point. The puck deflected off defenseman Slava Voynov's shoulder and past goaltender Jonathan Quick. Salvador's fourth goal of the playoffs proved to be the winner as the Devils staved off elimination once again.

Click here for the full story.

Devils anxious for Game 5

June, 9, 2012
6/09/12
12:26
PM ET
The Devils, down 3-1 to the Kings and facing elimination again, held an optional skate on Saturday afternoon prior to Game 5 of the Stanley Cup finals.

About half the players participated -- including Ilya Kovalchuk and Martin Brodeur.

Zach Parise got onto the ice early, but after taking a few shots, he left before he could skate with his teammates.

“I just wanted to get on the ice and try out a couple sticks and that was it,” Parise said. “I didn’t want to skate and waste any energy.”

Coach Peter DeBoer said there won’t be any changes, and his lineup will remain the same.

“It’s nice to bring it back home and play in our own building in front of our fans,” Adam Henrique said.

“We’re pretty anxious to get it going,” Parise said.

Parise said scoring the first goal and limiting mistakes will be the difference. The last 10 Devils playoff games have been won by the team that has scored the first goal.

“The first goal's important,” DeBoer said. “Again, I don't think there's any secret that we won the last game because for the first time in the series we found a way to get some momentum. It hasn't been for lack of effort.

“I think we've pushed hard enough in first periods of games in this series to grab the lead at different points. But Jonathan Quick either has made a big save or they made a good defensive play to keep us off the board. That momentum is important, for sure.”

Devils' big guns on verge of breakthrough

June, 8, 2012
6/08/12
3:52
PM ET


NEWARK, N.J. –- When asked by a reporter about the top line's recent production -- or lack thereof -- Devils captain Zach Parise quickly shot back:

"Who said we're not playing well?"

His answer may have struck some as defensive, and maybe it was, but it shows that Parise and his linemates feel that they are either shouldering some unfair criticism or are on the verge of breaking out.

Or maybe it's a little of both.

"I think we're playing fine," Parise said on Friday, one day before Game 5 of the Stanley Cup finals. "Just not scoring. If that's what you think [is] the difference between playing well and not playing well, that's your call."

The top trio -- comprised of Parise, center Travis Zajac and sniper Ilya Kovalchuk -- has managed only two points among them in the first four games, one of which was Kovalchuk's empty-netter goal in the Devils' 3-1 win in Game 4 Wednesday.

Jerry Lai/US PresswireIlya Kovalchuk and the Devils face their second consecutive elimination game.


While their contributions haven't been reflected on the score sheet, the team remains confident that will change soon.

"I think they're very close," coach Pete DeBoer said. "You just got to stick with it. It's frustrating. It's pressure. I mean, you guys talk to them on a daily basis. You write about that fact [that they're not scoring]. That's the pressure of playing at this point of the year. They recognize that.

"If they weren't getting chances, I'd be concerned," DeBoer continued. "They easily could have a couple goals each."

Parise and Kovalchuk managed four shots apiece on goal in Game 4, where an abundance of chances finally bore results against Vezina Trophy finalist Jonathan Quick, who has been unyielding as any goaltender this postseason.

That win -- the Devils scored three goals after managing only two in the first three games of the series -- might provide the traction needed to spur production and, ultimately, keep the Devils' comeback hopes alive. Saturday will be their second consecutive elimination game.

"I think we were creating more than we were in the first three games," Kovalchuk said. "I think we're forechecking better. We were in the right places. I think our power play was better. We shoot more pucks on net and create more momentum in the right direction."

Kovalchuk's empty-net goal, scored with 20 seconds remaining and a Devils win already wrapped up, was his first since the series finale against the Rangers in the Eastern Conference final May 25.

Might that be enough to get him, and his linemates, going?

"Empty-netters are the best goals because after you score them, it's almost 100 percent that you win the game, so we'll take them any day," Kovalchuk said. "But, it doesn’t really matter who scored. We feel like we played our best game so far in the series. We've got a lot of room to improve but I think we're in the right direction."

Notebook: Parise says ankle 'fine'

June, 7, 2012
6/07/12
7:58
PM ET
NEWARK, N.J. -- Zach Parise says his left ankle is “fine.”

The Devils captain went into the boards funny and got his left skate caught during the third period of New Jersey’s 3-1 victory over Los Angeles in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup finals on Wednesday. He skated gingerly toward the bench, but didn’t miss any time.

“No,” Parise replied Thursday when asked if he was worried that his ankle might affect his game.

But even if you were, would you tell us?

“No,” Parise replied, smiling.

Parise has no points in the Stanley Cup finals so far. Linemate Ilya Kovalchuk has one -- and it came on an empty-net goal.

“We’re playing fine. It’s just pucks aren’t going in,” Parise said. “We’re getting good chances every game. Just unfortunately right now for whatever reason it’s not going in for us. I don’t think that we need to change anything about what we’re doing. We’re working hard. We’ve just gotta score and then we don’t have this conversation.”

Devils coach Peter DeBoer thought it was important for Kovalchuk and Patrik Elias to break though.

“We need guys to start scoring, and just like a win, you hope one goal translates into some confidence,” DeBoer said. “It can’t do anything but help everyone’s mindset.”

Must be the ‘stache.

Adam Henrique elected to shave prior to Game 4, keeping only his mustache.

“I’ve done it before in juniors,” Henrique said. “It’s worked before, so why not try it again.”

It ended up working again.

The 22-year-old rookie center scored his third game-winning goal of the playoffs with 4:29 left.

“It’s in his character and his ability to rise to the occasion, he’s not overwhelmed in situations when the game is on the line,” DeBoer said of Henrique. “He has that special quality. He wants to be on the ice. He wants to make a difference at those points in the game.

“We obviously wouldn’t be here without him.”

The Devils are 0-for-15 on the power play in the series, but DeBoer thought their man-advantage was much better in Game 4.

“I thought we had some really good looks,” DeBoer said, giving credit to Kings netminder Jonathan Quick. “You can’t get discouraged, you just gotta stay with it.”

Los Angeles has found success on the penalty-kill by aggressively pressuring the points .

“They pressure all over,” DeBoer said. “They’re very good with their pressure and the guys they use killing penalties are offensive players and dangerous guys, so I think that helps.”

DeBoer liked what he saw from Petr Sykora and Henrik Tallinder, who were both inserted into the lineup for the first time in the series.

“They gave us a real shot of energy,” DeBoer said.

Devils right winger Dainius Zubrus got his first-ever Stanley Cup finals victory in Game 4. He had been 0-7.

Zubrus said it was brought up in a conversation on the plane-ride home with Sykora, but he downplayed any significance given the 3-1 hole his team currently finds itself in.

Devils' Game 4 victory notes

June, 7, 2012
6/07/12
12:16
AM ET


Adam Henrique has three game-winning goals in the playoffs -- the most for a rookie since 1999 (Chris Drury and Milan Hedjuk), according to ESPN Stats & Information.

• The Devils scored three goals in the final 12:04 of Game 4 after notching two in the first three games of the series combined.

Patrik Elias' goal ended New Jersey's scoreless streak against Jonathan Quick at 138 minutes and 39 seconds. It was the first time the Devils have led the entire series.

• The 1942 Maple Leafs are the only team in NHL history to rally from a 3-0 deficit to win the Stanley Cup finals.

• There hasn't been a sweep in the finals since 1998.

• The Kings are 3-3 this postseason when having the opportunity to clinch a series.

• Los Angeles has trailed for a grand total of 142:32 in the playoffs.

• The Kings are 10-0 on the road in the postseason.

Rapid Reaction: Devils 3, Kings 1

June, 6, 2012
6/06/12
11:00
PM ET


Recap | Box score | Photos

WHAT IT MEANS: They're still alive.

Adam Henrique, who has a knack for scoring big goals, notched his fourth of the playoffs with 4:29 left in the third period to snap a 1-all tie, and the Devils staved off elimination, beating the Kings 3-1 on Wednesday night in Los Angeles.

New Jersey has never been swept in 43 playoff series -- the longest active streak in the NHL and second-longest streak in league history.

Henrique, 22, also tallied series-clinching overtime winners against Florida and the Rangers.

MAR-TY-VELOUS: Martin Brodeur was absolutely stellar. The 40-year-old netminder made 21 saves to pick up his first victory of the series. His best stop of the evening came in the second period when he robbed Simon Gagne with his left pad. Brodeur also stoned Dustin Penner with 3:45 left in the third.

It didn't hurt that Brodeur was the recipient of some good fortune when Justin Williams and Anze Kopitar hit the post in the first.

FINALLY: Patrik Elias gave the Devils their first lead of the series with 12:04 left in the third period, finishing off a rebound in front. It was his fifth goal of the playoffs and first of the series.

WEAKSAUCE: Just 62 seconds after Elias tallied, the Kings tied the game. David Clarkson was sent to the penalty box on a questionable boarding call, and six seconds into the ensuing power play, Drew Doughty scored from the point to tie the game at 1.

ABOUT TIME: Ilya Kovalchuk recorded an empty-net goal for his first point of the series. Kovalchuk had missed a golden opportunity to give the Devils the lead two minutes into the second period when he could not corral a puck on the doorstep.

POWERLESS: The Devils went 0-for-3 on the power play in Game 4 and are 0-for-15 on the man advantage in the series.

UP NEXT: Game 5, Saturday night at Prudential Center

W2W4: Devils at Kings

June, 6, 2012
6/06/12
12:13
PM ET
At a glance: Down 3-0, the Devils will try to stave off elimination in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup finals on Wednesday night in Los Angeles. The Devils have never been swept in 42 best-of-seven series -- the longest active streak in NHL, according to ESPN Stats & Information. The Kings are one win away from their first championship in their 45-year franchise history.

Bucking history: The 1942 Maple Leafs are the only team in league history to ever win the Cup after trailing 3-0. Only three teams all-time have ever recovered from such a deficit: to win a playoff series: the Leafs, the 1975 Islanders and the 2010 Flyers.

Changes: Devils coach Peter DeBoer has elected to insert Petr Sykora and Henrik Tallinder into the lineup in favor of Jacob Josefson and Peter Harrold. Sykora has not played since Game 3 of the conference finals, while Tallinder has been out since mid-January with a blood clot in his left left lower leg.

Good to be Kings: Los Angeles is 15-2 this postseason, 10-0 on the road and has outscored its opponents 49-24. The Kings have averaged 2.88 goals per game, while allowing just 1.41.

Bad to be Devils: New Jersey has never led in the Stanley Cup finals and been outscored by the Kings, 8-2. The Devils have fired 74 shots on netminder Jonathan Quick -- he’s saved 72 of them. Quick is the favorite to capture the Conn Smythe if the Kings finish off the Devils in Game 4.

Powerless: The Devils are 0-for-12 on the power play in the series -- including 0-for-6 in Game 3.

From zero to heroes? Zach Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk have been held off the scoresheet in the series. They combined for 10 points in New Jersey’s six-game series victory over the Rangers in the conference finals.

Sykora, Tallinder to play in Game 4

June, 6, 2012
6/06/12
11:36
AM ET
With his team facing a 3-0 hole in the Stanley Cup finals, Devils coach Peter DeBoer has decided to make a pair of changes for Game 4 on Wednesday night.

Left winger Petr Sykora and defenseman Henrik Tallinder have been inserted into the lineup, while center Jacob Josefson and defenseman Peter Harrold will be healthy scratches.

Sykora hasn’t played since Game 3 of the conference finals, while Tallinder has been out since mid-January with a blood clot in his lower left leg.

Five keys for Devils in Game 4

June, 6, 2012
6/06/12
11:01
AM ET
Win a game or two, and all of a sudden, it’s a series.

But for now, the Devils are just playing for pride.

Only one team has ever won the Stanley Cup finals after trailing 3-0 in a series: the 1942 Maple Leafs.

And they weren’t facing the 15-2 Kings.

Game 4 is Wednesday night in Los Angeles.

How do the Devils finally get a win?

Here’s five things that need to happen for them to pull it off:

1. Focus on the now: The Devils can’t win the series in Game 4, but they can at least get on the board as they try to generate some semblance of momentum. And they need to bring that mantra with them into Wednesday night’s game.

2. Forget scoring first: Just score, period. The Devils were shut out in Game 3 and have just two goals in the first three games of the series. Obviously, getting an early lead would be nice -- they still haven’t had one yet in the series. But ultimately it comes down to just getting one by the seemingly impenetrable Jonathan Quick (.946 save percentage in the finals) and trying to go from there.

3. Step up: Zach Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk have been held off the scoresheet the entire series. Parise and Kovalchuk obviously need to elevate their games. But it’s not just them, it’s every one on the roster. If the fourth line -- New Jersey’s best trio in the series -- combines for four goals on Wednesday night, no one’s going to complain.

4. Don’t get frustrated: OK, given that their power play has gone 0-for-12 this series, that won’t be easy. But instead of focusing on that, the Devils need to start making quicker passes. The Kings have pressured their point men aggressively and been successful on the penalty kill as a result. It also wouldn’t hurt to think about making some personnel changes. Devils coach Peter DeBoer played Kovalchuk on the half wall in one situation and two defensemen on the points. Heck, if nothing’s working, give the fourth liners a shot. They can’t be any worse than the alleged “skill” players.

5. Change is good: DeBoer had been pressing all the right buttons through the playoffs, but he can’t seem to get it right in the finals. While the Devils coach may not be making wholesale changes -- lines have been juggled -- Petr Sykora and Henrik Tallinder have been inserted back into the lineup in favor of Jacob Josefson and Peter Harrold. Perhaps the moves will pay off.

'G.T.L.' takes on new meaning in L.A.

June, 5, 2012
6/05/12
4:17
PM ET
Noah Graham/NHLI/Getty Images
How original.

The Kings' mascot pulled out fatheads featuring "Jersey Shore" cast members and began "beating the beat" with them behind the Devils' bench during Game 3 of the Stanley Cup finals.

The Kings' official account tweeted the taunt, "Gym, Tan, Lose Game Three" with a link to the video.

The Devils now trail the Kings 3-0 in the series.

Rapid Reaction: Kings 4, Devils 0

June, 4, 2012
6/04/12
10:47
PM ET


Recap | Box score | Photos

WHAT IT MEANS: The Devils have overcome adversity throughout the playoffs.

But they’ve never faced this type of daunting deficit before.

After losing back-to-back 2-1 decisions in overtime, the Devils were throttled by the Kings 4-0 in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup finals on Monday night in Los Angeles and now face a 3-0 hole.

Only three teams in NHL history have ever rallied from 3-0 down to win a best-of-seven series: the 2010 Flyers (vs. Boston in the conference semifinals); 1975 Islanders (vs. Pittsburgh in the quarterfinals); and 1942 Maple Leafs (vs. Detroit in the finals).

The Kings, who have outscored the Devils 8-2 in the series, are one victory away from their first championship in franchise history. Los Angeles (15-2 this postseason) became the first team to take 3-0 leads in all four of its series.

New Jersey has never led during the series so far.

POWER FAILURE: The Devils’ power play was -- in a word Ilya Kovalchuk used after Game 2 -- “embarrassing.” New Jersey went 0-for-6 on the man advantage in Game 3 -- and is 0-for-12 in the series.

The Devils had a golden opportunity to break through on a 1-minute 5-on-3 in the first period with Mike Richards in the penalty box for elbowing and Jeff Carter also in the box for a high-sticking double-minor. Zach Parise, Patrik Elias and Travis Zajac all had chances but couldn’t score, and Marek Zidlicky’s tripping penalty whipped out most of the remaining time.

The Kings outworked the Devils for loose pucks on the penalty kill, and Kovalchuk was a nonfactor on the point.

Los Angeles, by the way, was 2-for-2 on the power play. Both Jeff Carter (sixth) and Justin Williams (third) notched man-advantage goals in the final frame.

DOUGHNUTS ALL AROUND: Kovalchuk and Parise have been held off the score sheet during the series -- and they haven’t been getting any help either. Devils coach Peter DeBoer switched up his line combinations at the start of the third period to no avail.

MVP: Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick has saved 72 of the 74 shots he’s faced in the series.

FIRST GOAL WINS: Alec Martinez gave the Kings a 1-0 lead at 5:40 of the second period. Twenty seconds after Quick stoned David Clarkson on a 2-on-1, Martinez jammed home a loose puck in front for his first goal of the playoffs. An irate Martin Brodeur wanted a whistle after making a couple of saves on Dwight King on the doorstep, but it never came.

Los Angeles has scored the first goal in every game during the series.

THAT’S PRETTY: Williams, Dustin Brown and Anze Kopitar combined on a nifty tic-tac-toe passing combination that resulted in Kopitar’s eighth goal of the postseason and a 2-0 Los Angeles edge at 15:07 of the middle frame. Kopitar beat Parise on a rush and one-timed a perfect diagonal feed from Brown upstairs for his second marker of the finals.

It was the first two-goal lead for either team during the series.

UP NEXT: Game 4, Wednesday night at Staples Center

Rapid Reaction: Kings 2, Devils 1 (OT)

June, 2, 2012
6/02/12
11:36
PM ET


What it means: The Devils now face a daunting two-game hole after surrendering their second overtime loss this series. L.A.'s Jeff Carter tallied the game winner in the sudden-death session to give the Kings a 2-1 win and a 2-0 series lead with their 10th straight road victory.

Making history: Saturday marked the first time in 61 years that both Games 1 and 2 went into overtime. The last time it happened was in 1951, when all five games between the Leafs and Canadiens required extra time.

Carter comes through: With his fifth goal of the playoffs, Ryan Carter knotted the teams at 1-1 with his redirection of Marek Zidlicky at 2:59 of the third. Ryan Carter's equalizer was yet another triumph of the Devils' sensational fourth line, which has chipped in with 10 goals this postseason. Ryan Carter's linemate Stephen Gionta then leveled Colin Fraser in the neutral zone on the next shift to ignite a New Jersey crowd that was still buzzing from the tying goal.

Kovalchuk hurting: Held off the score sheet for the second straight game, Ilya Kovalchuk's ineffectual play begs the question: Is he injured? The 30-year-old sniper missed a game during the Devils' semifinals series against the Flyers with a back issue, and if his inconsistent production continues, speculation about his health will only continue. Kovalchuk had the chance to win it for the Devils late in the game but he sent the puck high off the crossbar with 14 seconds left in regulation.

Loading up: With his team scoreless after two periods, Devils coach Pete DeBoer tried to spark some life into his club by loading up the top line. DeBoer moved Kovalchuk up to play with Zach Parise and Travis Zajac to begin the third period.

Doughty dominates: Drew Doughty's Conn Smythe candidacy was fortified with a jaw-dropping play that gave the Kings a 1-0 lead in the first period. The elite puck-moving defenseman did just that, stickhandling past two Devils and using a third as a screen as he ripped a shot past Martin Brodeur at 7:49. Doughty now has three goals and nine assists for 12 points through 16 games for the Kings.

Best chance yet: The Devils’ best chance through the first 40 minutes came on a shorthanded rush with defenseman Andy Greene in the box for tripping. Zajac made a beautiful pass to set up Parise at the right post, but Parise missed the net wide on his backhanded redirection attempt at 9:52.

Flashing the glove: With Jonathan Quick frustrating the Devils at the other end, Brodeur was doing his best to keep his squad in the game. The 40-year-old veteran flashed the glove to make a couple nice saves in the middle frame, snagging Justin Williams' try at 2:47 then denying Dustin Penner with 7:23 left in the period.

Boo birds: Blanked on their fourth straight power play of the game, the Devils were rocked with a round of boos from the home crowd at Prudential Center during the second period. They have been held without a man-up goal on all six attempts this series.

Up next: Devils at Kings, Game 3 at 8 p.m. Monday.

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