This game was do-or-die, and the Devils came through for their own survival. In my opinion, this was a great hockey game. The Devils took it according to plan: one shift, one period at a time. Their efforts resulted in a 3-1 victory in Game 4, sending the series back to New Jersey for a Game 5 Saturday night.
Adam Henrique. How clutch can one rookie be? I guess the power of mustache as advocated by one Ryan Carter came through. “What can I say?” Carter said following the game. “It got him going.” His 12 playoff points are a new Devils rookie record, just in case you were looking for an excuse to be more impressed than you already are.
The first period went scoreless, with the same pace from both sides seen in earlier games and perhaps some increased chippiness on the part of the Devils. The Kings received an early power play off a Zach Parise trip at 3:02 of the period. Although the Devils’ D was greatly improved in this game, Martin Brodeur still had to turn away several good opportunities for the Kings.
A Devils PP followed shortly after when Jarrett Stoll hooked Travis Zajac at 5:53. The Devils were unable to get a shot on net.
Unfortunately, the Devils’ power play goal drought continues: throughout this series, it is now 0-for-15.
I talked about face-off wins before, and the Devils came through. This also gave the Devils more puck domination. Towards the end of the 1st Adam Henrique was 6-for-8, Patrik Elias was 4-for-6, and the Devils were 14-for-22 (64%) overall on face-offs.
The second period began with 1:16 of carryover Kings PP time, with a Bryce Salvador interference call on Dustin Brown. The penalty was summarily killed and the Devils were raring for a tip-in. There was some good pressure in the offensive zone, but the Devils were unable to take it to the net. Shucks. Salvador interfered again (he admittedly had some awful looks in the course of this game) on Jeff Carter, sending the Kings on a 3rd PP. The Devils responded with an excellent penalty kill, holding the Kings to zero shots on net.
Brodeur, by the way, made a trademark Brodeur kick save on a Simon Gagne rush. It was beauty in motion. Both teams were again held scoreless in period 2, with the Devils having only 3 shots on goal.
The 3rd began with some chaos, as Salvador made a flawed pass to Anton Volchenkov that allowed Lewis a breakaway. However, the Devils made it 1-0 at 7:56 with a great effort from Patrik Elias, Dainius Zubrus, and Salvador. Elias put in the rebound and the Devils lead for the first time in the series.
What followed after can only be described as ‘crazy.’ Maybe even ‘controversial.’ Maybe even ‘oh wait, obviously.’ A dubious boarding call on David Clarkson at 8:52 resulted in a Drew Doughty goal through a heavy screen in front of Brodeur. The game was tied.
The Kings surged after the tying goal, but then we saw our resident superhero.
Henrique scored at 15:29 from Clarkson and Ponikarovsky, sending the puck over Quick’s blocker. After that, the Devils received a 3rd powerplay when Mitchell high-sticked Kovalchuk at 17:10, but it wasn’t necessary (and they didn’t score, anyway). Quick was pulled with about 30 seconds to go and Kovalchuk – who has labored furiously throughout this series through what has to be some back pain – iced the cake with an empty netter for a final score of 3-1.
The win prevented the first sweep in the Devils’ history of 43 playoff series. Awesome. What’s unfortunate is that the Devils got dinged up a little, with Parise twisting his foot a bit on a slide into the boards, and Kovalchuk receiving a cut high on his forehead on the Mitchell penalty. They will have three days of rest before Game 5 back in Newark.
The Kings are a hot road team (understatement!) but if the Devils are able to carry this momentum and get some bounces on their side, we’ll see a doubtlessly fierce Game 5. Grab yo hockey sticks and grab yo kids, this ride is far from over.