Saturday, June 9, 2012
W2W4: Game 5, Devils vs. Kings
By Katie Strang
At a glance: Spoiling the Kings’ hopes of a sweep on Wednesday, the Devils will try to keep their comeback hopes alive with a win in Game 5 on Saturday. Trailing 3-1, New Jersey will host L.A. at home with hopes of sending the series back to the West Coast. Can they turn the series around and plant some doubt in the minds of the dominant Kings? Or will L.A. party on Prudential Center ice with their first Stanley Cup title in franchise history? Stay tuned. The puck drops at 8 p.m.
Why not us?: Only one other team in NHL history -- the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs -- has come back from a 3-0 series deficit in the Stanley Cup final. But the Devils aim to become the second. As coach Pete DeBoer said Friday: “You know it’s going to happen again. So why not us?”
"You're not going to go 200 years without someone else doing it," DeBoer said. "So it's been long enough, it might as well be us."
Top line’s tipping point: Limited to two points in the first four games of the series, the Devils’ top line of captain Zach Parise, center Travis Zajac and star sniper Ilya Kovalchuk, feels confident it's on the verge of breaking through. Both Parise and Kovalchuk had four shots on goal against Kings netminder Jonathan Quick in Game 4, which was sealed on Kovalchuk’s empty-net goal with 20 seconds left in regulation.
Quick-silver: The Kings’ postseason dominance can be attributed in large part to the stingy play of their Vezina Trophy finalist in net. Quick has been sensational in leading the eighth-seeded Kings within one win of the Cup; he boasts a staggering 1.39 goals against average and gaudy .948 save percentage with three shutouts. After frustrating the Devils in the first three games -- in which he surrendered only two goals combined -- Quick gave up two in Game 4.
Road warriors: A Cup-clinching win for L.A. would make history beyond the King’s first championship in franchise history. With a pristine 10-0 road record, the Kings could become the first team in the NHL to rack up 11 wins on the road during the playoffs. Only three other teams in league history have amassed 10 -- the 2004 Calgary Flames (also coached by Darryl Sutter) and the 2000 and 1995 Devils.
Veteran presence: Both defenseman Henrik Tallinder and forward Petr Sykora will remain in the Devils’ lineup after making their series debut in Game 4 on Wednesday. DeBoer said he thought Tallinder was “outstanding” in his first game back from a leg injury that sidelined him for almost six months. Sykora returned to the lineup after serving as a healthy scratch in six consecutive games.