The Los Angeles Kings will make a third attempt at clinching the franchise's first-ever Stanley Cup title when they host the New Jersey Devils in Game 6 tonight at the Staples Center.
The Kings jumped out to a 3-0 lead in this best-of-seven series, but lost Game 4 on home ice and then were dealt a 2-1 setback in Saturday's Game 5 in New Jersey. The Devils will try to stave off elimination again tonight and force a decisive Game 7 this Wednesday in New Jersey.
New Jersey is only the third team in NHL history and the first since the 1945 Detroit Red Wings to push a Stanley Cup Finals to six games after trailing 3- 0. The Red Wings lost that series in seven games, leaving the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs as the only club to win the Cup after falling behind 3-0.
Saturday's loss in Newark was the first road setback of this postseason for Los Angeles, which is now 10-1 as the guest this spring. The Kings, who are in Stanley Cup Finals for the second time in club history, were denied in their attempt to become the first team to win 11 road games in one playoff year.
Thanks to 25 saves from Martin Brodeur, the Devils took a 2-1 win over the Kings in Game 5 at Prudential Center. New Jersey also received goals from Zach Parise and Bryce Salvador to stay alive. For Parise -- the Devils' captain -- it was his first goal of the Cup Finals and eighth of this postseason.
"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."
Salvador who had only nine assists in 82 games during the regular season is now tied with L.A.'s Drew Doughty for the most points by a defenseman in this year's postseason. Both Salvador and Doughty have four goals and 14 points this spring.
Justin Williams scored the only goal for the Kings, while Jonathan Quick made 17 stops. The setback dropped L.A. to 16-4 in this postseason and tonight's Game 6 will mark the furthest point the Kings have been pushed to in any series during these playoffs.
"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 had won 12 straight road playoff games dating back to last postseason, but the club is only 5-3 as the host this spring.
The Devils are 7-5 as the guest in this postseason and are 10-1 in Games 4 through 7 in the 2012 playoffs.
Not only are the Kings aiming for their first championship since entering the league for the 1967-68 season, but L.A. is also trying to become the first No. 8 seed to win the Cup.
This year's Cup Finals marks the first-ever playoff battle between the Kings and Devils and the teams only met twice during the 2011-12 regular season. New Jersey and L.A. faced each other twice in October and the Devils won both contests.