Devils Will The Puck In The Net, Take Game 4
Coming into this game, the New Jersey Devils have actually played the Los Angeles Kings pretty close to the chest aside from the Game 3 debacle, when the Kings routed the Devils, 4-0. The first two games of this series were so tightly played, both games required overtime. If the Kings did not pull off both overtime goals, the series could be in a complete stand still right now at two games apiece.
The score of Game 4, 3-1, would generally mean that there was scoring early as well as late in the game. However, all four goals scored in last night's game came in the third period. The first two periods consisted of dwindled power play opportunities, and amazing saves from both Martin Brodeur as well as Jon Quick.
For whatever reason, the Devils have yet to score on the power play despite having 15 opportunities on the man advantage in the Stanley Cup Finals. The first period got underway with a quick penalty to the Devils captain, Zach Parise for tripping. The Kings returned the favor by committing two penalties of their own in the opening period.
The first period featured chances for both sides to get the first goal, but to no avail. The shots were about even after the first period, with the Devils barely outshooting the Kings 8-7. The second period seemed to be mostly the Kings pushing the momentum, considering the Kings outshot the Devils 7-3. However, this was the first game the Devils outhit the Kings, registering 43 hits to the Kings 33.
The third period had all of the fireworks in what was a heated and physical game. Just under eight minutes into the third period, the Devils were able to take their first lead of the Stanley Cup Finals. Although the lead would not stand very long, it did not make the goal less important.
Right after the Devils goal, the Devils David Clarkson was sent to the sin-bin for two minutes for a questionable boarding call. Regardless of if it was or was not a penalty, the Kings were able to capitalize on the power play just one minute after the Devils got on the board, tying the game up at one apiece. Drew Doughty was able to fire a slap shot from the point, beating Brodeur and ringing off on the near side post.
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With just 4:31 left to play in the third period, the Devils were able to tack on another goal. The clutch rookie and Calder Trophy Finalist(Rookie of the Year), Adam Henrique was able to use his wrist shot to beat the amazing Quick to take the lead, 2-1. After the clock began ticking down past a minute left in the game, Kings head coach Darryl Sutter decided to pull Quick in order to get the extra skater on the ice. Unfortunately for the Kings, that strategy did not pay off, considering the Devils were able to get an empty net goal, increasing their lead to 3-1.
The play of Bryce Salvador was a helping factor in the Devils win last night. Salvador, 6'3" Devils defenseman has been playing amazing in the postseason and after last night's two assist game, he is now fourth in assists among all skaters in the playoffs, not to mention 9th in total points. Brodeur was also in the zone last night, stopping 21 of 22 total shots faced.
Winning last night's game was undoubtedly huge for the Devils for multiple reasons. First, the Devils are not going to be one of those teams that get swept in the Stanley Cup Finals. Second, the series moves back to New Jersey, giving the Devils a better chance at winning Game 5 than they did in Game 4. Even though the Kings are still undefeated on the road, home-ice advantage is something a team is happy to gain.
Although the Kings probably wanted to win Lord Stanley's Cup in front of a packed Staples Center, their pristine road record suggests that they will win the series in Game 5. However, the Kings probably not care where they win the Stanley Cup, as long as they win it. Can the Devils come back from a three game deficit? Time will tell, but probability says otherwise.
By: Stephen London
ProHockey-fans.com Staff Writer