Kings Halfway There Due to Carter's Overtime Thriller
After the Los Angeles Kings improved to an amazing 10-0 record on the road (happens to be the best road record in the playoffs), the New Jersey Devils knew how important Game 2 of this series was going to be. If the Devils were not able to get a win at home in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals, the Kings would be in complete control of the playoffs as the series heads back to Los Angeles. The Devils came out very strong, outshooting the Kings 30-21 in regulation.
Regardless of how many shots were taken, when a game goes into overtime, it only takes one shot to break the tie. Sure enough, Jeff Carter of the Kings fired a wrist shot with 6:18 left to play. Carter's goal ended the hometown's evening as well as the Kings time in New Jersey, at least for the time being. Game 2 of this extremely close Stanley Cup Finals had the exact same score as Game 1, 2-1 in overtime.
Kings defenseman, Drew Doughty has been playing fantastic throughout the playoffs, but especially in the Stanley Cup Finals. Doughty was able to get the Kings started in Game 2 with a fantastic individual effort. Using a defenseman as a screen, Doughty took the puck up almost the entire length of the ice, and then fired a wrist shot which beat Devils goaltender, Martin Brodeur.
After no scoring in the second period, the third period was all Devils. Ryan Carter got a tip-in goal just under three minutes into the third period to tie the game up at one apiece. The Devils knew they had momentum on their side and had the opportunity to put the Kings away, but due to the amazing play of Jon Quick in net for the Kings, this game went into overtime.
When the overtime period got underway, one could tell the Kings wanted the win. The Kings came out in overtime and limited the Devils to only three shots in 13:42 of overtime. Clearly, Kings head coach Darryl Sutter motivated his troops in the intermission before overtime. Sutter seems to motivate his team at the right times either by his own doing, or the veterans that are already in the locker room.
The Kings, although winning the first two games of the series, still have not been playing their best hockey. In fact, these two overtime thrillers are the Kings worst performance in terms of offense in the entire playoffs. Before this series, the Kings did not score less than five goals in any two consecutive games in the playoffs this year.
Despite their offensive struggles, what has been really helping the Kings is their strong defense and their ability to pressure the Devils with all the Kings forwards back-checking. What is truly odd about Game 2 is the fact that the Kings did not outshoot the Devils until overtime, outshooting the Devils 11-3.
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Surprisingly enough, the Devils were not able to convert any of the six power plays while playing at home in the first two games. It will be even more surprising if the Kings followed suit on that trend and do not convert any power plays in the next two games. It is clear that the Kings have been playing amazing on the road, but it is counter intuitive to think a team does not play better at their home venue.
Even though the Kings are the best road team in the playoffs the NHL has ever seen, their home record is nothing to make fun of, going 5-1 with a goal differential of +7. If the Devils would like to at least play one more home game this season, they must take advantage on the power play.
Out of the 12 playoff wins the Devils have had this postseason; only two games were won without a single power play goal. Before the Stanley Cup Finals started, the Devils had one of, if not the best power play units, converting 18.8 percent of opportunities given.
Game 3 should be just as physical, but the main difference should be more scoring. The Kings should be ready for the next two games, as they hope to sweep the Devils in front of a hometown crowd. The Devils have only been shut out twice this entire postseason and both of them came on the road. Since the Devils were not able to pull a win out at home, the chances of them doing so now have greatly diminished. If the Devils do pull a win out in Los Angeles, it will only take Game 5 to have new Stanley Cup Champions.
By: Stephen London
ProHockey-fans.com Staff Writer