The Devils are a talented group of players and for all the accolades showered upon our Kings by their announcers, we offer the same in return with sincerity.
The first period saw both teams generate chances with one exception – New Jersey kept their shots on goal and the Kings kept shooting wide. Apart from that, the Kings skated with New Jersey in every stride. The Devils got on board first with a beautiful cross ice pass from Zach Parise to the always fun to say Johnny Oduya. Oduya’s goal was fortuitous as it pinballed off Jack Johnson’s skate, rapidly changed direction, deflected off the inside of Quick’s right pad and ricocheted into the net. A questionable penalty call on Matt Greene against a net crashing Rob Niedermayer (who is living proof that the jersey can, in some cases, make or break a look as Rob looks imminently less inept and hate worthy without the CalTrans colors) gave the Devils’ a man advantage. The penalty call was apparently for “falling” as that is exactly what Niedermeyer did without any assistance from Greene. The Devils were a menace on the ensuing powerplay but the Kings’ stingy defense and Quick’s reflexes kept the deficit at one.
As the period wore on and despite playing less than 24 hours earlier against the Bruins, the Kings were getting stronger. The forwards were causing turnovers, the defensemen were standing the Devils’ forwards up at the blue line and there was a shift in momentum that the Devils had gained by the end of their powerplay.
The first period ended 1-0.
The second started with an amusing exchange between Cangialosi and Resche about the Kings’ old purple and gold jerseys and their pajama style superiority to the current colors. “Back to the things that do matter,” Cangialosi called. Indeed. An early turnover by Drew Doughty in the defensive zone, while attempting to send the puck at an angle behind the net to Scuderi, almost made the game 2-0 but an alert Jonathan Quick turned Zach Parise’s wrist shot away. New Jersey took the momentum back again for several minutes. The Kings were losing the neutral zone battles. Ted Purcell made a rare terrific defensive play by stripping Devils‘ captain Jamie Langenbrunner of the puck right in front of the net. New Jersey however kept coming and added to their lead on a Travis Zajac slap shot from near the top of the right circle. The play started on a shot by Wayne Simmonds that went through Brodeur’s crease and, hitting nobody, caused a three on two breakout for Devils. The shot, while hard and accurate, was stoppable and one Quick probably wants back.
By the half way point of the game, the Kings had not generated many shots or scoring chances against the near legendary Martin Brodeur – that is until 9:57 remaining in the second whereat Jack Johnson fired a rocket of a slap shot that Brodeur saved with his still lethal glove. Ted Purcell had another, gasp, good shift with hustle and aggressive forechecking. Doughty followed that with a dump that he chased, retrieved, and passed to Scuderi who had a solid shot on goal. On the next shift, Kopitar and Brown on an improvised Terry Murray line controlled the puck along the boards and Anze drew a penalty on Dean “who me?” McAmmond for tripping. The Kings didn’t have a shot on their earlier first powerplay of the game. On this second one, Ryan Smyth parked his rear end in front of the net. The Kings patiently cycled and passed the puck between Kopitar, Johnson, Doughty and Stoll. Stoll came within centimeters of cutting the lead in half but the leather tip of Brodeur’s glove sent the puck high and wide.
0 for 2 on the powerplay.
Once again, toward the end of the period, the Kings took the momentum. The game got chippy. Matt Greene put Parise into the boards on Zach’s one man rush. Jack Johnson pushed and slammed New Jersey’s Greene into the boards in front of his own bench. With 28 seconds left in the period, Frolov, Handzus and Parse recovered the puck on a pesky forecheck and Parse’s pass from behind the net to Handzus ended in the back of the net.
You could feel it.
The goal was a game changer.
Going into the third, the shots were even at 14 each and the Devils only had 1 more scoring chance at 9.
L.A. owned the start of the third period. Forecheck, pressure, a front of the net presence and shots on goal. Simmonds looked like he was made of steel as Devils’ forwards and defensemen bounced off him. Richardson and Stoll used their quick first step to gain control of the puck along the boards. The Kings’ hard work was rewarded with a powerplay. Our boys however played better 5 on 5 as the Devils had two glorious short handed chances. The second missed the net by inches.
The Kings pressed on and spent most of the third period in the Devils’ zone. New Jersey would not quit but the Kings looked like a team that would not be denied. While short handed, Jonathan Quick’s glove hand made the save of the night with a sprawling robbery on Zubrus, which Resche called the best “no look save I have ever seen.” Zubrus is going to have nightmares tonight. Resche is technically wrong though. Quick saw it. On the replay, one can clearly see his head turned toward his glove. We’ll take the compliment regardless. Quick was sharp and made some big saves to keep the Devils’ lead at only one.
Johnny Oduya drew a penalty on what we will kindly call an “embellishment” with only 4 minutes left. Quick continued to stand tall. Ten feet tall and bullet proof to be exact.
Back to 5 on 5 hockey.
Wayne Simmonds threw the puck at the net on a backhand from a sharp angle by the left circle and Ryan Smyth, where else, in front of the net deflected the puck past Martin Brodeur.
Then, with a minute left to go, Anze Kopitar drew a tripping penalty against Andy Greene. On the ensuing powerplay, Jack Johnson tossed the puck to Drew Doughty who made a deceptive fake, quick lateral move and fired a bullet at the net from the middle of the ice. The screaming puck passed Brodeur and grabbed the back of the net. Ryan Smyth and Dustin Brown were stationed in front of Marty’s mask. Brodeur may have never seen it. The Kings never let the Devils have the puck in the final remaining seconds.
What a road trip.
Post Game Tidbits:
– Brodeur’s puck handling skills are world class ridiculous. The trapezoid or “Marty Rule” is the only thing that keeps him from single handedly stifling any attempt at dump and chase hockey. Thankfully, the Kings limited that style of offensive zone entry mid way through the second period and played a better puck possession game.
– Jonathan Quick earned his 31st win of the season and it’s not February yet.
– Emrick and Resche made a point toward the end of the second period to discuss Jonathan Quick’s play and conclude that Quick was playing better and should trump Thomas as the Olympian goaltender. I think our own Surly has been saying that for a few weeks. Coincidentally Brodeur is the only goalie that leads Quick in games played this season by only one.
– The Devils’ Zach Parise is one hell of a talent…pun intended.
– Parise, Zubrus and Zajac are fun to watch. The Kings are more fun.
Categories: L.A. Kings News