Newark, NJ – The New Jersey Devils did something on Saturday that no one else had done in these playoffs, won a game at home against Los Angeles.
Thanks to 25 saves from Martin Brodeur, the Devils took a 2-1 win over the Kings in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals at Prudential Center.
Los Angeles came into the game a perfect 10-0 on the road and were looking to become the first team in history to win 11 in one playoff year away from home. Also, the team was hoping to wrap up its first Stanley Cup championship in franchise history.
The Devils, though, got goals from Zach Parise and Bryce Salvador to again stave off elimination. New Jersey has won the past two games after dropping the first three, including a pair of 2-1 overtime losses at home to kick off the best-of-seven set.
"You know, I've been singing the same tune since Game 1," said New Jersey head coach Peter DeBoer. "I said even when we were down 3-0 that I didn't feel that the series was that lopsided. Our best players were our best players tonight and that's the key this time of year."
New Jersey became just the third team in NHL history, and the first since 1945, to force a Game 6 in the Stanley Cup Finals after falling behind 3-0. The Toronto Maple Leafs are the only to rally from a 3-0 hole to win the Cup and they did it in 1942 against the Detroit Red Wings.
Justin Williams scored the only goal while Jonathan Quick made 17 stops for the Kings, who will have to win at home in Game 6 on Monday if they want to claim the title.
"You know, we're probably saying what they said Games 1 and 2, where we got breaks and now they did," said Los Angeles head coach Darryl Sutter. "That's how even it is. We hit a couple posts again tonight, and you hope one goes off the post and in."
The Kings were trailing by a goal after the first period, but Williams tied the game 3:26 into the second when he skated the puck into the Jersey end down the right wing, cut to the middle and snapped a wrist shot into the left corner with traffic in front.
New Jersey, though, responded at the 9:05 mark to take the lead back for good. Salvador received the puck up high and fired a wrister on net from the left point. It deflected off the side of LA's Slava Voynov and changed direction past Quick for a 2-1 game.
The Kings were awarded a power play just 28 seconds after the goal when Devils defenseman Mark Fayne cleared the puck over the glass inside his own end for a delay of game.
Brodeur made the lead hold up when he stopped a Williams shot down low and covered up the rebound. A bit later in the advantage, Jarret Stoll whacked a rebound out of the air and into the net from the left side, but the swat was well above the crossbar, so the goal was called off.
Ryan Carter nearly made it a two-goal game later in the second when he was all alone in front for a one-timer, but his shot rang off the helmet of Quick with under four minutes to play.
The Kings received another power play late in the frame when Salvador was called for high sticking after clipping Simon Gagne with 1:22 to play.
Los Angeles was unable to take advantage, though, as Brodeur made a nice stop on a Jeff Carter attempt from the left side before the second period clock expired and the power play ran out in the third without any significant chances. However, Brodeur made a nice save on a Willie Mitchell slap shot from the left point a few seconds after it expired.
New Jersey had a chance to expand on its lead when Dustin Brown was called for holding the stick at the 5:51 mark.
LA did a good job on the advantage and nearly caught a break when Mike Richards skated into the Jersey end from the right wing, but Marek Zidlicky made a nice play to break up Richards' rush as he tried to cross between the circles. The puck went the other way and Quick was forced to make a glove save on an Ilya Kovalchuk wrister through a screen.
New Jersey did a good job of limiting LA's chances for the next several minutes, but a turnover in the Devils' end saw Drew Doughty set up for a clear shot from the slot. He got the puck on net, but Brodeur made the stop and covered up with 6:17 to play.
An icing call to Los Angeles with 1:47 left kept Quick in the net and another whistle 11 seconds later saw a scrum in front of the LA net that resulted in matching minors to either side.
The Kings eventually got Quick on the bench for the extra attacker with over a minute to play and the team set up in the New Jersey end.
An Alec Martinez shot from the high slot was blocked in front and Richards was set up for a pair of chances from the right circle. His first went wide of the net while his second hit off the outside of the net and sailed out of play with 8.8 seconds showing on the clock.
Los Angeles then called a timeout, but it didn't matter as New Jersey won the faceoff and time expired.
"I thought we survived out there," said Brodeur. "I don't think we played our greatest game, but we found a way to win. These are important games to win, especially at home, knowing these guys play really well, really solid on the road."
The only tally of the first period came on the power play after Mitchell was called for interference on Patrik Elias.
Kovalchuk threw the puck into the Kings' zone down the left side and Quick came out to the left of the net to make a play. He sent the puck the other way, but it bounced off the boards and caromed to the right where Parise was able to stuff it in at 12:45 for his first goal and point of the Finals.
Earlier in the period, Williams caught the right post with a wrist shot about three minutes in while Brodeur made a pokecheck on a Brown rush to the net in the first minute.
The Kings had won 12 straight road playoff games dating back to last postseason...LA's last road playoff loss came at San Jose in the opener of a Western Conference quarterfinal on April 14, 2011...The Devils were 0-for-15 on the power play in the Cup Finals prior to Parise snapping the skid...Only three teams in NHL playoff history have rallied from a 3-0 hole, the Maple Leafs in 1942, the Islanders in the quarterfinals against Pittsburgh in 1975, and the Flyers against the Bruins in the Eastern semifinals in 2010.