By GREG BEACHAM AP Sports Writer
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Adam Henrique scored the tiebreaking goal
with 4:29 to play, Martin Brodeur made 21 saves, and the New Jersey
Devils beat the Los Angeles Kings 3-1 on Wednesday night to avoid a
sweep in the Stanley Cup finals.
Patrik Elias and Ilya Kovalchuk also scored third-period goals
for the Eastern Conference champion Devils, who forced the NHL to
put the Stanley Cup back in its crate for another cross-country
trip. Game 5 is Saturday night in Newark, N.J.
“It’s a tough situation, but we live another day,” Brodeur
said. “We wanted to at least have one more game in our building
for our fans. Hopefully, we’ll make the best of it and come back
The Kings have won all 10 of their road playoff games this
spring and 12 straight overall _ both NHL postseason records. But
after never trailing in the Stanley Cup finals, the Kings never led
in Game 4.
After two tense, scoreless periods in front of fans hoping to
see the Kings win their first title in their 45-year history, Elias
scored on a rebound with 12:04 to play.
Drew Doughty scored a tying power-play goal for the Kings 1:02
later, but Henrique scored on a slick pass from David Clarkson, and
Kovalchuk added an empty-netter that sent fans streaming forlornly
out into a warm evening in Southern California.
Jonathan Quick stopped 21 shots for the Kings, but lost his
streak of nearly 139 shutout minutes right when he probably could
have wrapped up the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP.
With a golden chance for a Hockeywood ending, Los Angeles
dropped to 15-3 in its spectacular postseason run, failing to win
the franchise’s first championship on its first try _ and in its
200th playoff game _ in front of the long-suffering fans who have
never seen the Stanley Cup.
Los Angeles set an NHL record by taking a 3-0 lead in all four
of its playoff series, but failed three times to close out its
opponents in Game 4. Vancouver and Phoenix also won Game 4 before
losing Game 5.
The Devils became just the sixth of 26 teams in finals history
to force a Game 5 after falling behind 0-3. Only the 1942 Toronto
Maple Leafs ever rallied with four straight wins in the finals, and
only three teams in NHL history have done it in any playoff round.
After a tight-checking game between two very tight teams, Elias’
rebound goal put a hush over Staples Center. Six seconds after
Clarkson went off with a questionable boarding penalty, Mike
Richards passed Anze Kopitar’s faceoff win to Doughty, who rocketed
a long shot past Brodeur for the fourth goal of his breakthrough
But after so many minutes of tight defense, New Jersey won it
with a stunning goal in transition: Former Kings forward Alexei
Ponikarovsky got the puck to Clarkson, who found Henrique across
the ice for his first goal since ending the Eastern Conference
finals with an overtime goal.
The Kings opened their first Stanley Cup finals in 19 years with
two tense overtime victories in New Jersey, surviving largely on
the brilliance of Quick. Los Angeles then returned home and routed
the Devils 4-0 in Game 3 on Monday night, setting the stage for
But the Devils got into the details, and the Kings must regroup.
No surprise given the tremendous stakes, both teams were nervous
and jumpy from the opening faceoff in Game 4. Quick got plenty of
work early when the Devils got two power plays in the opening
minutes, but he made a slick glove save on Petr Sykora’s shot in
the slot and later scrambled to cover Zach Parise’s unobstructed
Slava Voynov and Kopitar hit Brodeur’s posts for the Kings in
the scoreless first period. Both teams appeared to be as tense as
the crowd in the second, with Brodeur making a stellar pad save on
Simon Gagne’s breakaway chance late.
The NHL unpacked the Stanley Cup deep inside Staples Center
before the third period, but it never saw the ice.
Gagne and Trevor Lewis got an outstanding breakaway chance early
in the third, but Brodeur sprawled on his back to stop Lewis.
Brodeur mishandled the puck moments later and nearly gave it right
to Brown, but the deflection off Brown’s right skate barely missed
Elias finally slipped in on Quick and slapped home a rebound of
Bryce Salvador’s shot, putting a pall on the crowd and ending
Quick’s scoreless streak at 138 minutes, 39 seconds.
The gloom didn’t last long: Doughty teed up the latest in his
long line of booming shots, and Brodeur was at least partly
screened by Anton Volchenkov in front.
NOTES: The Kings set a franchise attendance record for the
second straight game, packing 18,867 into Staples Center. … The
Devils changed their lineup for Game 4, inserting Sykora into his
sixth Stanley Cup finals along with D Henrik Tallinder, who had
been out since January with a blood clot. Sykora, a healthy scratch
since Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals, replaced Jacob
Josefson, while Tallinder took the spot of former Kings D Peter
Harrold. Sykora played more than 12 minutes, and Tallinder logged
nearly 20 minutes. … Gagne played his second straight game after
returning to the lineup for Game 3. He had been out since Dec. 26
with a concussion. … Staples Center was occupied by an LMFAO show
on Tuesday night, and Van Halen will play before the teams return
for a potential Game 6, although Kings coach Darryl Sutter says the
ice is holding up well. … Will Ferrell, Matthew Perry and Alyssa
Milano attended the game.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)