The hopes of Los Angeles Kings fans in the Staples Center were dashed yesterday here at STAT BOX STORIES, as the New Jersey Devils—down 3-0 in the Stanley Cup Finals—scraped together a gritty 2-0 victory in Game 4 to force a fifth game back in Newark. Today’s Game 5 sees a similar storyline for each team: a Kings win ends the 2011-2012 NHL season and awards the Stanley Cup to Los Angeles for the first time in franchise history; a Devils win means more hockey and a return to West Coast for Game 6. Again, we ask: will the Cup be skated tonight? The only way to find out is to read on!
In a series which had seen two scoreless first periods and two first periods where only one team managed a tally, Game 5 flipped the script as each team got on the board. New Jersey struck first with a Zach Parise goal just over 6 minutes into the game, sending the Devils crowd into a frenzy and beginning to stoke the fires of a “Why not us?” feeling in the Prudential Center.
Just over 10 minutes later, however, the Kings’ Kyle Clifford scored his second goal of the Finals to tie the game at one and begin to silence the exuberant home crowd hoping to send their team back to Los Angeles.
The shots on goal for the first and second periods were identical—6 for the Kings, 4 for New Jersey—but Los Angeles began making a bid for winning the Cup with a potentially back-breaking goal with under 5 minutes remaining in the second period. Drew Doughty buried his third goal in five games—the leading scorer of the series so far—and the Kings bench erupted as the men in white started to believe that the Cup might be in their hands tonight.
The situation went from bad to worse for Devils fans when the Kings—short-handed due to a Jeff Carter penalty for tripping at the conclusion of the second period—managed their second short-handed goal of the series from the stick of Anze Kopitar. With a 3-1 lead, the excitement around the arena had noticeably deflated.
The die-hard fans in red-and-black had reason to celebrate, however, when Zach Parise potted his second goal of the game with just over five minutes remaining to narrow the lead to 3-2 and once again inject some life into the New Jersey dreams of forcing a Game 6.
The emotional rollercoaster continued just under a minute later, with an Alec Martinez slapshot catching the bottom of the crossbar and settling in the net behind Martin Brodeur to re-establish a two-goal lead and begin sending New Jersey fans to the exits.
Any lingering New Jersey fans gave up the game for good with a minute-and-a-half remaining as Dustin Brown scored his second goal of the series to extend the lead to 5-2 in favor of the Kings and set into motion the visitor’s countdown of the final seconds of play before joining the hundreds of names engraved on Lord Stanley’s Cup.
Shots were almost identical in this series-clinching Game 5, and though New Jersey was much more physical this time around, it was not enough as they again squandered power play opportunities and surrendered a short-handed goal. A series that had become known for tight play ended up being decided by a comparatively high-scoring affair, with neither goalie living up to their performances of earlier in the series but one goalie not needing to thanks to his offensive support.
Anze Kopitar’s Stanley Cup-clinching goal in the third period allowed him to win 1st Star honors for the game, while Zach Parise’s two-goal effort for the losing team gave him the 2nd position. Dustin Brown’s goal and assist put him in the 3rd slot.
Kings goalie Jonathan Quick ended up being named the Conn Smythe winner as MVP of the Stanley Cup Playoffs after a 4-1 record and only 6 goals against over the 5-game series. He stopped 104 of 110 shots faced for a .945 Save %.
The Kings victory in this NHL 12-assisted run of the 2012 Stanley Cup Finals draws to a close this week of entries at STAT BOX STORIES. More preparation work is already being done for the next series of featured content here at the site, so be sure to bookmark us and follow @Paakaa10 on Twitter for the latest information!