Stanley Cup finals
New Jersey Devils 2, Los Angeles Kings 1
(Kings lead the series, 3-2)
The good: So, the Kings have lost two straight for the first time in this postseason, and watched their 10-game road winning streak in these playoffs skid to a halt inside Prudential Center. But look at the bright side, they still lead the series heading back to L.A. Right from the opening drop, Kings right wing Justin Williams had an extra jump to his step and a little more zing on his shot. After drilling his second post in as many games 2:40 into the first period, he didn't let his second prime scoring chance go to waste. The play began with a run-of-the-mill clearing pass by defenseman Matt Greene. Williams collected the puck at his own blue line with Anze Kopitar in front of him. Williams smartly elected to keep the rubber, darting toward the high slot and forcing defenseman Mark Fayne to back off. Kings left wing Dustin Brown cut toward the goal, drawing Zach Parise with him. As Williams reached the high slot, he let go of another wrister that beat goalie Martin Brodeur cleanly, tying the score, 1-1, about 3 1/2 minutes into the second period.
The bad: Puck-handling has long been a glaring weakness in goalkeeper Jonathan Quick’s game and it reared its ugly head in the first period. After the Kings owned the first 11 minutes, defenseman Willie Mitchell went to the penalty box for interference in his offensive zone. The Devils nearly scored in the first minute of the power play when Travis Zajac’s shot from the slot trickled through Quick’s pads, but the puck rolled away from the goal line and Drew Doughty was able to step in and clear it from the crease. About a minute later, Quick came out of the crease to handle the puck with plenty of room to send it forward, but he elected to spin and bounce it off the end boards. He didn’t put enough on the attempt and the puck hit the boards and got hung up on the back of the net. Parise swooped in, beat Doughty to the puck and scored on a wraparound before Quick could get back into position. It was Parise’s first goal of the series, as well as New Jersey’s first power-play goal. Not a good omen considering the team that scored first won the previous four games.
About 5½ minutes after the Kings tied the score, New Jersey defenseman Bryce Salvador let go of a slap shot from just inside his blue line. L.A. defenseman Slava Voynov was battling with David Clarkson in front of the net and both attempted to get out of the way of the shot. The puck got a piece of Voynov, however, and was redirected to the left of Quick, giving the lead back to the Devils, 2-1. It was the second time in the series the puck has caromed off the rookie defenseman and into his own net. The score held up, sending the series back to L.A. for Game 6 on Monday night at Staples Center.
The in between: At least the Kings and Devils won’t have to compete with the NBA Finals or the Subway Series for viewership come Monday. The NHL will have the afternoon/evening time slot all to its self.