The run to a Stanley Cup title here at STAT BOX STORIES continues today as the series transitions to Los Angeles for Game 3 between the New Jersey Devils and the Los Angeles Kings. If you’re just joining us and haven’t looked back at the first two entries so far, the Kings took Games 1 and 2 on the road in New Jersey and return home looking to win two more games and skate the cup in front of their home crowd. On the other side of the ice, the Devils are just looking to get one game in the win column so that they can begin their fight back into the series.
Despite being outshot 10-4 by the Kings in the opening period of Game 3, it was the Devils who had much to celebrate during the first intermission after taking a 1-0 lead on a goal from Ilya Kovalchuk just over 16 minutes into the game.
In a game with must-win implications for New Jersey, they were nonetheless being stymied on the stat sheet in terms of offensive output. Fortunate to be up 1-0 after the first, the Devils were again outshot in the second period—this time 10-2—despite going on the power play midway through the game when Simon Gagne took a minor penalty for checking from behind. Worse still for the Devils was a fluke of a game-tying goal from Kyle Clifford of the Kings with just over three minutes remaining in the second period, bringing the game back level and firing up the raucous Los Angeles fans.
Perhaps more aware of their impending doom if they didn’t step up play, the Devils put more shots on Kings goalie Jonathan Quick in the third period than they had all game; 16 compared to the 6 shots from Los Angeles in the final frame. Their work on a power play just over halfway through the period showed promise to begin after Dwight King got a boarding minor for LA, but New Jersey broke a cardinal rule of staying in a big-time game midway through the man advantage.
Goaltender Martin Brodeur came out of his crease to play the puck after a Los Angeles clear from their zone, and his attempted pass to get the Devils back into LA territory was too slow; Dustin Brown of the Kings intercepted it and got just enough on a quick shot to tuck the puck into the corner of the net and take Los Angeles’ first lead of the game. The shorthanded tally was the first goal of any kind during a power play in the series to that point.
New Jersey tried to rebound from their goalie’s gaffe but their Game 3 fate was sealed when Anze Kopitar found the back of the net with just over a minute remaining to push the Kings’ lead to 3-1 and finish out the scoring of the game, giving LA a 3-0 advantage in the series.
Despite taking a 20-6 advantage in shots on goal through two periods, Los Angeles ended up only outshooting New Jersey 26-22 when the Devils poured on their 16-shot onslaught in the third period. The Devils were more physical in Game 3 than in any game of the series so far, but they were stuck in their defensive zone far too long despite having two power play opportunities in the game. Power play woes for the series continued, with no power play goals through three games and the scoring of a short-handed goal by Dustin Brown in this match-up.
Brown’s game-winning goal gave him the 1st Star of the game, while Jonathan Quick settled for 2nd with 21 saves in the third consecutive victory. Robert Scuderi rounded out the stars of the game in 3rd place with 2 assists.
With three games of the Stanley Cup Finals in the books, Los Angeles sits one win away from sipping champagne out of Lord Stanley’s Cup. On the other bench, the Devils now know that every game is do-or-die, and that winning the Cup will require them to replicate a feat that has only once been completed in the Stanley Cup Final: come back from 3 games down to win 4 games in a row. Come back to STAT BOX STORIES tomorrow to see if New Jersey can take the first step to joining the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs as the only NHL teams to overcome a 3-0 deficit and win the Cup!