Newark, NJ – Anze Kopitar scored on a breakaway 8:13 into overtime, as the Los Angeles Kings continued their exceptional play on the road by posting a 2-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals at Prudential Center.
On the winning goal, defenseman Drew Doughty moved the puck up the left-wing boards to Justin Williams. He then made a backhand pass in the neutral zone to his linemate Kopitar, who stickhandled alone in the New Jersey zone before firing the puck under Martin Brodeur's elevated right pad.
"It feels great. Every time you get the chance to finish it off in OT, you know, to face a world class goaltender like Marty is, it's definitely a good feeling," Kopitar said.
Jonathan Quick made 17 saves for the Kings, who are making their second appearance in the Cup Finals -- they lost in five games in 1993 to Montreal -- after knocking off the Western Conference's top three seeds: Vancouver, St. Louis and Phoenix.
With Wednesday's victory, Los Angeles improved to 9-0 away from Staples Center this postseason, outscoring its opponents 32-14. The Kings' nine consecutive road wins are the most in a single playoff year in league history. They are also the first team to record 11 straight wins away from home over multiple postseasons.
"Every time you get on the road you need a team effort. It showed again tonight," Kopitar said.
The Kings will look to extend both streaks on Saturday and return to Los Angeles with a 2-0 series lead.
Brodeur stopped 23 shots for New Jersey, which is in the NHL's championship round for the fifth time in club history and first since capturing its third title in 2003.
The Devils rallied from a 3-2 series deficit in the opening round with two overtime wins against the Florida Panthers, and then eliminated the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers, the East's top seed.
"The good news is we started in the same hole against Philly, we started in the same hole against the Rangers," said New Jersey head coach Peter DeBoer. "We responded to the situation in the right way the last two rounds, and I expect the same."
The start to the game was long on whistles and short on shots as the teams played cautiously.
Los Angeles created pressure with its aggressive forecheck behind the New Jersey net, resulting in the series' first goal. Jordan Nolan pushed defenseman Andy Greene off the puck and fed out front to Colin Fraser, who beat Brodeur on a one-timer from the right circle at the 9:56 mark of the first period.
Moments after Devils forward David Clarkson missed the net on a scoring chance, Kings captain Dustin Brown bumped into Brodeur. Los Angeles negated the power play as Quick made a big save on Travis Zajac's wrister.
Quick made another save off a draw to his right in the period's latter stages, getting his left pad on Bryce Salvador's point drive, one of the five shots he faced over the opening 20 minutes.
Los Angeles also recorded five first-period shots.
New Jersey, which entered the playoffs as the sixth seed, was granted another power play in the second period when Jarret Stoll tripped Ryan Carter while the duo pursued a loose puck. But the Devils remained without a shot in the frame until Zach Parise drove the net shorthanded with 5 1/2 minutes remaining.
Devils forward Dainius Zubrus, who is making his first appearance in the Cup Finals since 1997, when he was an 18-year-old rookie with Philadelphia, finished serving his infraction for elbowing and nearly tied the game with a shot off Quick's glove.
New Jersey finally was able to sustain pressure in the offensive zone and pulled even when the rebound of Anton Volchenkov's shot from the left boards caromed in off a body in front with 1:12 left.
"It's a bounce. That's part of the game," Quick said. "Felt like I played it the right way. I was trying to get it into the corner, over the glass, get a whistle. The way I directed it, it ended up, I don't know who it hit, but it hit somebody, then it ended up in the back of the net."
The Devils scored a goal 3:58 into the third period, but they did so illegally. A diving Quick reached back and made a stick save at the goal line, robbing Parise, who violated the rule book by shoveling the puck in with his glove.
Nolan then tried to sneak a wraparound past Brodeur at the 8:20 mark. The 40-year-old Brodeur sealed off the right post.
The Devils came close to taking the lead as Mark Fayne was all alone at the right side, but fired the puck wide of an open net off a rebound.
Los Angeles then had a prime opportunity to move back in front, but Brodeur stacked the pads to deny Doughty from the slot with 7:28 to play.
The Kings are only the second No. 8 seed to reach the championship round since the conference-based playoff format was introduced in 1993-94. The Edmonton Oilers were the first six years ago...New Jersey also won the Cup in 1995 and 2000. The Devils lost in their bid to repeat in 2001 to Colorado...Los Angeles is one road win shy of the NHL record for one postseason...Quick posted his 11th consecutive road playoff win, a new NHL record...Brodeur played in his 200th career playoff game, joining Patrick Roy (247) as the only goaltenders in league history to achieve the milestone. He also became the fifth goaltender in NHL history and first since Jacques Plante in 1970 to appear in the Cup Finals after his 40th birthday...LA's Darryl Sutter is the ninth head coach to advance to the Cup Finals after taking over a team during the season...Each of the past three Cup champions started the season in Europe (Pittsburgh in 2008-09, Chicago 2009-10 and Boston 2010-11). The Kings opened their season in Stockholm and Berlin...Fraser registered his first goal in 18 career playoff games...The Devils swept both regular-season meetings.