Devils One Game Closer, Taking Game 5
The Los Angeles Kings were and are still in the proverbial driver's seat of the Stanley Cup Finals, even after losing for the first time on the road this postseason. Still sporting a 10-1 ridiculous road record, the Kings must feel a little cheated, considering two goals in the last two games have gone in off Kings defenseman Slava Voynov. Voynov, the 22 year old Russian could not really do anything about what happened. Sometimes, the shots do go off a defenseman; it comes down to the way the puck is bouncing.
Regardless of the unfortunate fate of Voynov, the New Jersey Devils were playing like a team that was facing elimination at home. Martin Brodeur, although he played lights out, he had a lot of help from two of his best friends, the posts. To his credit Brodeur stopped 25 of a total of 26 shots faced, but the post stopped a couple of opportunities. Brodeur also stopped a couple breakaways, one coming right before the Devils turned the puck around and scored on the Kings.
The most surprising part of this 2-1 final, Game 5 win by the Devils has to be the fact that the Devils got their first goal of the game on the power play. Not only was the goal scored by the Devils captain Zach Parise, but it was also the Devils first power play goal since playing the Rangers in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Devils have shown a lack luster performance on the man advantage in the Stanley Cup Finals, only scoring 1 goal in 17 opportunities.
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The penalty that gave the Devils the power play in the first period was very questionable at best. Willie Mitchell, the 6'3" Kings defenseman hit a Devils after the puck had gone by both players, with both having the ability to touch the puck. Mitchell was not happy with the call as well as the NBC's hockey analyst and former NHL player and coach Mike Millbury, calling the penalty a "bad call'.
The Devils held a 1-0 lead for the rest of the first period. Just under three and a half minutes into the second period, Justin Williams walked the puck into the zone. Using a defenseman as well as his own teammate Dustin Brown as a screen, Williams fired a laser of a snap shot, beating Brodeur top shelf.
Later in the second period, the unfortunate bounce for the Kings came off a Bryce Salvador wrist shot from the point. Just about nine minutes into the second period, Salvador took the puck deep in the corner of the point. Salvador then just wristed a shot high and towards the net. With just a little bit of luck for the Devils, or very unfortunate positioning by the Kings, the puck bounced of Voynov, misdirecting the puck to the opposite corner the Kings goaltender Jon Quick, thought it was going.
In the third period, there was no scoring, but that does not mean the third period did not have any significance. The Kings actually outshot the Devils 9-3 in the third period, but to no avail considering the game ended 2-1. However, the third period did have some tempers flaring. There were numerous scrums in the third period, one coming with just a minute and a half left in regulation causing two roughing minors to be dished out to the Kings Dustin Penner and the Devils Alexi Ponikarovsky.
These two teams have really started to show signs of hate in multiple ways. Game 5 had 57 hits in total, but what is interesting is the fact that the Devils have outhit the Kings for the second straight game for their second straight win. The hit totals are interesting to follow because they have dictated the winner of each game of the Stanley Cup Finals thus far. What is odd however, is the fact that the Kings and Devils have waited until Game 5 to truly get in each other's faces, provoking the other team by crashing the net after each shot.
The key statistics in Game 5 were clearly the hits as well as the power play. The Devils outhit the Kings 34-23 as well as scored their first power play goal in the Stanley Cup Finals. If the Devils power play is now in full operational power, then the Kings might have to relax on their over aggressive type of play. It will be interesting to see which team hits more in Game 6 on Monday.
By: Stephen London
ProHockey-fans.com Staff Writer