In saddling the Kings with their first road loss this post-season, the Devils also dented LA”s stellar penalty-killing effort with their first power-play goal of the series.
Entering Game 5 without a man-up goal on 15 consecutive attempts, New Jersey finally capitalized on captain Zach Parise’s first goal of the series.
Parise cashed in after an uncharacteristic gaffe by Jonathan Quick, who mishandled the puck behind the net and was beat to the right post to surrender the game’s first goal 12:45 into play.
“For us to get the first goal, that's always big,” Parise said after the game. “I think every team plays better when they've got the lead. You can get the crowd going a little bit, get them excited. We were able to do that.”
Parise’s first-period marker also provided a boost to a struggling unit that has been unable to find the back of the net against a tenacious Kings penalty kill that, before Saturday, had given up only five power-play goals in 73 times shorthanded this playoff run.
“It was big because we obviously wanted to score first and also [because] it was a power-play goal,” said Travis Zajac, who plays with on the first unit. “I think we haven’t been struggling -- we’ve gotten some good looks on the PP -- but it was nice to finally crack that with that one.”
With a 2-1 lead late in the game, the Devils used two defenseman -- first Andy Greene and Marek Zidlicky, then Henrik Tallinder and Mark Fayne -- at the points instead of Ilya Kovalchuk manning the left with a defenseman on the right.
The Devils can only hope they will be in the same position -- with a lead to protect late in the game -- come Monday when they try to prevent the Kings from securing the Cup for the third straight game.