The Devils fell to the Kings in OT, 2-1. Yes, the same score as Game 1.
However, what differentiates Game 1 and Game 2 is that the Devils played much better this time around. It seems that the ‘feeling each other out’ period is over. The Devils started strong on the forecheck during period 1 and had some scoring chances. What ultimately ruined their strong opening momentum was their own power play.
In other words, what the hell’s happened to the Devils’ power play?
In his post-game, Ilya Kovalchuk called it ‘embarrassing.’ Um, I don’t know if I’d go that far. The other team I watch regularly is the Chicago Blackhawks and their regular season streak of failing to score on the power play reached truly painful levels. This isn’t embarrassing. Not yet. But it’s something that they need to fix if they want to get back into this series.
Another area that that’s become sorely lacking is defense. The Kings’ first goal came at 7:49 of the 1st off the stick of Drew Doughty, his third of the post season. Doughty completely outworked the defense, making his way through several Devils before snapping an unassisted wrister through Brodeur. Long story short, he shouldn’t have been able to do that. If there’s anything embarrassing about the Devils’ play right now, it is the performance of the defense.
The Devils managed to maintain pressure throughout the second, leading in shots 20-15. They also lead in giveaways.
Lines were changed to start the third (Elias-Henrique-Zubrus, Parise-Zajac-Kovalchuk, Ponikarovsky-Josefson-Carter). DeBoer did not change the fourth line (Carter-Gionta-Bernier) that has been successful in the course of the post season. The move paid off with Carter evening the score 2:59 into the third with assists from Zidlicky and Bernier, 1-1.
The game could’ve ended in the third. Kovalchuk shot at an open net, but the hockey gods (along with angle and trajectory) were not on the Devils’ side. The puck bounced off the top bar, sending the game to overtime. History lesson: This is the first time since the 1951 Stanley Cup Final that the first two games have gone into OT.
Brodeur was as impressive in overtime as he had been throughout all three periods, with the Kings taking ten shots on net. The pace was frenetic, with constant up-and-down play. Jeff Carter scored for the Kings at 13:42 through a heavy screen. A heavy screen of Devils, that is. So ended Game 2, leaving the Devils trailing 2-0 in the series.
Word on the street is that Kovalchuk’s injury has worsened. You know, I think a lot of people were forced to eat their words after the news of Gaborik’s injury and upcoming surgery came to light. So let’s support Kovy – he is doing the best he can and probably skating through an incredible amount of pain.
And let’s not jump on Marty. The number of breakaways the Kings had were truly phenomenal, by which I mean – what I’m saying is – the defense didn’t do their job. They’re not pinching, they’re not holding forwards to the boards, and these guys are getting through to get good shots on Marty. Marty is giving us a performance far younger than his years. Brodeur stopped 30 of 32 and ended the game with a SV% of .938.
Practice lines (June 3rd, Saturday):
Fifth line: Boulton-Sykora-Janssen