Devils have hope after gutty performance
Just as they were on the verge of exiting the Stanley Cup final in four straight games, just as they were in danger of getting shut out for a second straight game and matching the record for scoring futility in a four-game sweep, the Devils showed they weren't quite ready to call it quits for the season.
Now, the Kings, the first team to have four 3-0 series leads in the same season but losers of Game 4 at home in three of the series, travel to Newark for Saturday night's Game 5 and bring with them a 10-0 road record in these playoffs.
Regardless of what happens the rest of the way, the Devils left Los Angeles with the satisfaction of not giving the home fans a chance to see the successful culmination of their "We Want The Cup" chants. And they're also alive with a chance to become the fourth team in NHL history and second in the final to rally from a 3-0 deficit to win a series.
At least the Devils have a chance. The Kings are still heavy favorites to win their first Cup, but it's not quite over just yet.
"We've got to win a home game, where we're a good home team in front of our home crowd," said coach Pete DeBoer. "I'm confident that we'll be ready to play and we'll get the job done."
Patrik Elias, moved back to center for the game, scored on a rebound 7:56 into the third period to give the Devils a 1-0 lead, their first lead of the series. The lead lasted only a minute, but center Adam Henrique broke the tie with a snipe and right wing Ilya Kovalchuk hit the empty net to keep the champagne out of the Kings' locker room.
Is this enough to plant doubt in the minds of the Kings?
"You hope so. That's the plan," said DeBoer. "We've gotta take it home now and win another one."
DeBoer shakes up lineup for Game 4
--Coach Pete DeBoer brought his team to Los Angeles for Game 3 of the Stanley Cup final intending to keep his lineup intact, which he did. But after a 4-0 loss left the Devils on the brink of elimination, DeBoer made changes for Game 4.
Lefty wing Petr Sykora, a healthy scratch since May 19, replaced center Jacob Josefson and defenseman Henrik Tallinder, out since Jan. 17 with a blood clot in his lower leg but cleared to play at the start of this series, replaced Peter Harrold.
The Devils won Game 4 to stay alive.
Tallinder logged 19:21 of ice time and had two shots in goal in playing to an even plus-minus. Sykora was a plus-1 and had a shot on goal.
--DeBoer said he likes the way his team has played in each of the last three games: "Our poorest effort was in Game 1. I think the last three games could have gone our way as easily as they've gone L.A.'s way. We just finally got rewarded tonight."
--The Devils have led for a total of 5:31 in the series. They took a 1-0 lead, their first of the series, when center Patrik Elias scored at 7:56 of the third period Wednesday. That lead lasted exactly a minute, but center Adam Henrique broke the tie and New Jersey led for the final 4:31 of the game.
--The 1942 Maple Leafs are the only team ever to come back from a 3-0 deficit to win a final series.
--The Devils avoided having the Kings be the first team to sweep a final since the 1998 Red Wings, who scored the league's fourth straight finals sweep (the first of those by the Devils in 1995).
--The Devils went 0-for-3 on the power play Wednesday night. They are 0-15 with the advantage in this series, 2-for-38 in the last two series and 12-for-81 in the playoffs. The Kings have yielded only five power play goals in 72 chances in these playoffs and scored their only goal Wednesday night on the power play.
--The Kings have gone 15-2 in the playoffs, 10-0 on the road, as the teams head back to Newark for Game 5. They have allowed 27 goals in 18 playoff games. They have scored 52.
--L.A. goalie Jonathan Quick is 15-3 with a 1.39 goals-against average and a ridiculous .948 save percentage in the playoffs.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "It's a tough situation, but we live another day. We wanted to at least have one more game in our building for our fans. Hopefully we'll make the best of it and come back here." -- G Martin Brodeur after the Devils stayed alive with a win in Game 4 Wednesday night.
--G Martin Brodeur, making his 192nd straight playoff start for the Devils, broke his and the team's three-game losing streak and kept the season alive with a 3-1 win over the Kings in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup final Wednesday night. Brodeur made 21 saves, and two L.A. shots hit posts as the Devils finally caught some breaks.
--C Patrik Elias, back at center with Petr Sykora reinserted into the lineup, scored his first goal in five games (and in this series) to give the Devils their first lead of the series. He converted a rebound with a backhander.
"We stayed alive," he said. "Marty (Brodeur, the Devils' goalie) had to work hard, but he gave us a chance. All we've got to do it keep playing hard."
--RW Ilya Kovalchuk again appears to have been slowed down by injury, probably his lower back. After getting five shots on goal in the first three games, he had four in Game 4 and hit the empty net with the insurance goal.
--C Adam Henrique, who already had the Devils' rookie playoff scoring record, scored his fourth goal of the playoffs to break a 1-1 tie with 4:31 left in Game 4, sniping one past Jonathan Quick. "Big-time play," said his coach, Pete DeBoer. "... Goal-scorer's play. He's got a knack."
--D Bryce Salvador had two assists, his fourth multi-point game of these playoffs. He has three goals and 10 assists in the playoffs after failing to score a goal and picking up nine assists in 82 regular-season games.
--LW Alexei Ponikarovsky and RWs Dainius Zubrus and David Clarkson all had assists in Game 4, but all three continued their goal-scoring droughts. Ponikarovsky has gone 12 games without a goal, while Zubrus has gone 11 and Clarkson eight. In addition, left wing Zach Parise and center Travis Zajac have both failed to register a point in the last five games.
--RW David Clarkson, who took a questionable penalty that led to L.A.'s tying goal, got the puck to Adam Henrique for the winner. "That's probably the best feeling I've ever had in my whole career," Clarkson said. "I saw (Henrique) coming, so I got it to him, and the shot was incredible."
--D Henrik Tallinder (blood clot, leg) played his first game since Jan. 17 and logged 19:21. He had two shots on goal.
"Peter Harrold played great and gave us some real good minutes," DeBoer said. "The reality is Tallinder was a top-two defenseman for us. He was all year. He's been out for a long time. This is the first time in the last four or five days where we felt in practice that he was up to game speed and a legitimate option. We considered it after Game 2, but our group I thought had played such a good game that we didn't want to change it then. Now it (seemed) appropriate."