NEWARK, N.J. -- Two games into the Stanley Cup finals, and the Devils have been saddled with two heartbreaking overtime losses that leave the team staring down a sobering 2-0 series hole.
When they make their bleary-eyed cross-country flight to Los Angeles on Sunday morning, the Devils will have six hours to rue not only Jeff Carter's clincher that buried them, 2-1, on Saturday, but also Anze Kopitar's game winner from three nights prior and the daunting task that lies ahead.
Only five teams in Stanley Cup history have rallied back after dropping the first two games of a series, and although the Boston Bruins pulled it off against Vancouver just last year, the Devils leave Newark having failed to record even a split on home ice.
"It's hard," said captain Zach Parise, assessing his team's situation.
"But we're not going to quit."
Both Parise and Kovalchuk were held off the scoresheet for the second straight game, but the Devils' night was altogether different from their underwhelming effort in the opener.
The Devils won territorial battles, re-established their forecheck and made Kings netminder Jonathan Quick work hard for every one of his 32 saves.
But just one play made the difference, as Carter careened to the slot to fire one past a screened Brodeur as the Kings grabbed their 10th consecutive road victory.
"We felt like we were doing the right things, that we were going to get another goal," Parise said. "Unfortunately, that just didn't happen."
If Wednesday's loss in Game 1 was disheartening because of the Devils' disappointing performance against an upper-echelon Kings team, Saturday was all the more excruciating because the execution was that much better.
"We played a much better game," said coach Pete DeBoer. "I knew we would respond."
After falling behind 1-0 early in the first on Drew Doughty's jaw-dropping goal -- one in which he stickhandled past two Devils and used a third as a screen to beat Brodeur -- the Devils rallied back to tie the game in the third.
It was the team's fourth line (honestly, who else?) that gave the Devils a jolt, when Ryan Carter re-directed Marek Zidlicky's shot at 2:59. Carter's linemate Stephen Gionta really got the home crowd rocking at Prudential Center on the next shift, leveling Colin Fraser in open ice.
The momentum carried into overtime, and Brodeur was stellar. The 40-year-old veteran flashed the glove at Mike Richards and stopped Jordan Nolan at the doorstep, and went on to make 11 saves in the OT before relinquishing the deciding goal to Carter with 7:18 remaining in the period.
"That's just the bounces in hockey," Gionta said. "One day they're going with you, and the next they're going against you."
Frustration, disappointment and probably a little bit of anger will join the baggage the Devils carry with them to the West Coast. They'll try to remember that the 2-0 hole they face is less lopsided than it seems.
"We've got no shame in the way we've been playing," said Brodeur, who made 30 saves. "We've just got to find a way to win."
The Kings steamrolled their way through the West -- handing over only two losses in 14 games -- and, on paper, they appear to be making easy work out of their first Eastern Conference foe.
But the Devils aren't done yet, and they plan on making this a series.
"Hey," said Brodeur. "We're still alive."