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|Devils force Game 6 with 2-1 win|
|Written by Denis Gorman|
|Sunday, 10 June 2012 02:27|
Having already lost three games, the New Jersey Devils will be playing the rest of the series with their backs up against the wall. If the team's 2-1 win in Game 5 is any indication, it's a pressure that suits the Devils well.NEWARK, N.J.—Los Angeles Kings coach Darryl Sutter suggested that his team was not feeling any pressure heading into Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final Saturday night.
His demeanor following the New Jersey Devils’ 2-1 win suggested otherwise.
“Are you cheering for the Devils or for the Kings?” Sutter demanded to know of a reporter when asked which of the conference champions were feeling burdened heading into Monday night’s Game 6 at the Staples Center. The Kings still lead the best-of-seven series three-games-to-two but the Devils have won Games 4 and 5.
“So you’re rooting for the Devils,” Sutter continued. “I’m going to say the pressure’s on them because they’re the home team and they had a hundred-some points [actually, 102], okay?”
The Kings did not resembled the team that had compiled a 15-2 playoff record prior to Game 4 of the Final. Los Angeles spent much of the game complaining to officials Dan O’Halloran and Brad Watson when they weren’t engaged in verbal and physical confrontations with the Devils; their body language betrayed a team that appeared to be irritated that they still had to play.
“If they are [frustrated] that will definitely play to our advantage,” Devils captain Zach Parise said. Parise opened the scoring with a power-play tap-in after Jonathan Quick (17 saves) whiffed on a clearing attempt 12:45 into the game.
“Throughout the series we’ve done a pretty good job of not giving them a lot of great opportunities. From an offensive standpoint, that can get frustrating,” Parise continued. “So maybe that’s the case. I don’t know. But I still think they played a really good hockey game tonight.”
But the Devils were better.
New Jersey handled the Kings’ surges with aplomb. The Devils blocked 20 shots and forced the Kings to misfire on 14 other attempts. Martin Brodeur handled the remaining 26 attempts that got through in the fashion that has made the 40-year-old a guaranteed first ballot Hall-of-Famer.
The only goal Brodeur allowed was Justin Williams’ off-the-rush wrister from the high slot 3:26 into the second period. Brodeur was screened on the play by Dustin Brown, Andy Greene and Mark Fayne.
“I thought we survived out there,” Brodeur said. “I don’t think we played our greatest game but we found a way to win."
“We made some good blocks; key plays defensively to win this game.”
Bryce Salvador continued his playoff transformation into Bobby Orr by scoring the game-winning goal 9:05 into the second. Salvador, who used David Clarkson as a screen, wristed a shot under Quick. The goal was the defenseman’s fourth of the playoffs and his 14th point. He finished the regular season with only nine assists.
“I think you’re seeing a bunch of individuals having success because the team is having success. Not just me,” Salvador said. “There [are] a lot of guys contributing. Everyone’s enjoying it because we’re getting some momentum. It’s individual success that comes along with team success.
“We’ve been working on that all year,” Salvador said when asked to explain his patience on the game-winner. “It’s really just been trying to get the puck through. I kind of faked a shot and bought some time so I could kind of go across [Kings defenseman Matt] Greene. I think it went off 16 people and went in. Clarkie did a great job by going to the net and setting a screen. [Alexei Ponikarovsky] made a great play bringing it up and passing it across. There’s a lot of things that went right on that shift and we got rewarded for it.”
Which is why New Jersey and Los Angeles will fly back to Southern California with the Devils enjoying a two-games-to-three series advantage.
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Photos by Getty Images