Los Angeles, CA – The New Jersey Devils lived to fight another day.
Adam Henrique's goal with 4:31 to play was the winner as the Devils took a 3-1 win over the Kings to avoid elimination in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals from the Staples Center on Wednesday.
The Devils hadn't held a lead in the series and were coming off an embarrassing 4-0 loss on Monday, but they got 21 saves from Martin Brodeur and goals from Patrik Elias and Ilya Kovalchuk to send the series back to New Jersey, where Game 5 will be played on Saturday night in Newark.
"We finally got rewarded," said New Jersey head coach Peter DeBoer. "Like I said, I've liked our game and our efforts the last three games. We just haven't found a way to win until tonight. So hopefully that gets the ball rolling."
New Jersey still has a big hill to climb as only three teams have crawled out of a 3-0 deficit to win a series. One of those was in the Cup Finals, though, as the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs rallied for four straight wins to defeat the Detroit Red Wings.
Also, the Devils will have to find a way to stop a Kings team that has won all 10 of their road games in the playoffs, including a pair of 2-1 overtime wins in the first two games of this series at the Prudential Center.
Jonathan Quick allowed two goals on 23 shots while Drew Doughty scored the lone goal of the game for the Kings, who are looking for their first Stanley Cup championship in franchise history.
"It's in the past at this point and we have to focus on the next game, that's all it is," said Quick. "Whether you win or lose, we don't have time to get down or too excited. We just have to focus on the next one."
All the goals in this game were scored in the third period and the deciding goal went to Henrique, who also has two overtime winners in these playoffs.
David Clarkson brought the puck in at the right side and quickly sent a pass over to the left wing for a skating Henrique, who kicked it over to the forehand before snapping a shot that beat Quick to the short-side for a 2-1 lead.
"Henrique has been there for us the whole playoffs and the whole season," said New Jersey right wing Petr Sykora, who was back in the lineup for the first time since May 19. "He's that kind of player [where he] will score some huge goals for us in this playoffs and hopefully he is going to score a couple more along the way."
Brodeur then made the lead stand up with 3:44 to play when he made a pad save on a Dustin Penner shot from the left wing.
Willie Mitchell was called for high sticking when he clipped Kovalchuk with 2:50 to play. The Devils didn't score, but it kept the Kings from applying any pressure.
Los Angeles got Quick out for an extra attacker in the final minute, but Kovalchuk put the puck into the empty net to seal the win.
Los Angeles had the first power play of the game when Zach Parise was called for a trip of Justin Williams 3:02 in. The best chance of the advantage came in the second half when a drop pass was left at the left point for Alec Martinez on a rush. He got a big blast on net, but Brodeur made the stop then gloved the rebound out of the air.
Jarret Stoll was then called for a hook of Travis Zajac at the 5:53 mark, but New Jersey didn't manage a shot during the advantage.
However, Dustin Brown was penalized seconds after the Stoll penalty expired as he tripped Alexei Ponikarovsky. Quick had to be sharp on this one as he made a nice glove save on a Sykora wrist shot from the slot.
With just over three minutes left, Jersey caught a break when a Williams tip of a right point shot caromed off the near post and stayed out.
An interference call to Bryce Salvador with 45 seconds left in the period gave the Kings another power play, and the post was the Devils' friend again as an Anze Kopitar shot ricocheted off the pipe.
"We have to bury the chances that we get," said Kopitar. "They seem like they had chances off the rush and they capitalized on those. We've got to correct some things and get ready again."
The carry-over power play at the start of the second stanza for the Kings bore no fruit as they managed just one shot. Kovalchuk was denied at the other end when he wasn't able to get much lift on a shot from the left side and Quick made a right pad save about two minutes in.
A Slava Voynov shot from the right point was redirected on net about five minutes in that saw Brodeur make a save, and Quick again used the pad a minute later to stop a sharp angle shot from the right side by Parise.
Salvador was called for interference at the 8:19 mark when he hit Jeff Carter and the Kings went on their third man advantage, but the Devils penalty killers did an excellent job to keep the game scoreless.
With under five minutes to play, Simon Gagne skated into the Devils' zone down the left wing and had a clear shot on net, but Brodeur made a nice left-pad save on the wrister from inside the circle.
The first goal of the game went to the Devils at the 7:56 mark of the third. Dainius Zubrus held off a checker as he skated behind the net and emerged at the left side. He sent the puck back to the point where Salvador fired a shot on net. Quick made a pad save, but the rebound went off the skate of Mitchell before Elias swiped it in at the left side.
The Devils' first lead of the series was short lived lead, though, as Clarkson was called for boarding Brown at the 8:52 mark and the Kings struck four seconds later.
Kopitar won the right circle draw back to Mike Richards, who fired a pass over to the left point where Doughty blasted a one-timer through a screen for his fourth of the playoffs.
The last sweep in the Cup Finals was in 1998 when the Red Wings defeated the Capitals...The Devils have never been swept in a playoff series since coming to New Jersey in 1982...The Devils went 0-for-3 on the power play and have not scored on the man advantage in 15 chances in the Cup Finals...Quick had not allowed a goal for 138 minutes, 39 seconds prior to Elias' goal...Devils defenseman Henrik Tallinder played for the first time since January 17 due to a blood clot. He played close to 19 1/2 minutes in the game...Kovalchuk and Kopitar are tied for the points lead in the playoffs. Each player has eight goals and 11 assists...The Kings' three losses in the playoffs have come in Game 4 at home with a chance to sweep.