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|Kovalchuk, Devils struggling to score|
|Written by Bill Weisbrod|
|Sunday, 03 June 2012 01:28|
With offensive talents like Ilya Kovalchuk, Zach Parise and Patrik Elias, you wouldn't think that the Devils would be having difficulties scoring. Unfortunately for the Devils, that's exactly the problem they are having.When the New Jersey Devils took the ice for the third period in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final, their offense had officially stagnated. They had scored one goal in the series’ five periods, so coach Pete DeBoer decided to put his two most offensively skilled wingers on the ice at the same time.
DeBoer started the third period with the reunited top line of Ilya Kovalchuk, Travis Zajac and captain Zach Parise.
The group, which had not played together since early in the Eastern Conference Final against the New York Rangers, generated chances in the third period and in overtime, but was unable to score.
That is how it has gone for the Devils’ two stars through two games in the Stanley Cup Final.
The Devils would not have reached this level without Kovalchuk and Parise, who are first and second on the team in playoff scoring, respectively. But two games into the championship series, the two talented wingers are yet to make a serious impression on the Stanley Cup Final series that the Los Angeles Kings now lead 2-0, after Saturday’s 2-1 overtime win.
Kovalchuk called the team’s power play, which failed to score on four opportunities, “embarrassing.”
He missed an opportunity to give the Devils a 2-1 lead with just over 10 seconds remaining in the third period and his team on the power play when he shot a one timer from the right faceoff circle that Los Angeles goaltender Jonathan Quick managed to get a tiny piece of with his blocker-side arm before the puck caromed off the crossbar.
“What are you gonna do?” said Kovalchuk, who leads the playoffs with 18 points. “We worked really hard, forechecking better than the first game. We just have to keep working.”
Even though the Kovalchuk-Zajac-Parise unit did not score, the Devils got the game-tying goal just 2:59 into the third from their hot fourth line of Stephen Gionta, Ryan Carter and Steve Bernier, when Carter deflected Marek Zidlicky’s point shot past Quick.
“It was just a shot in the arm to try to find a goal,” DeBoer said of the line shuffle. “We haven't scored enough, obviously.”
A lot of that is attributed to the Kings’ strong play without the puck. Much like the Devils did to the Rangers in the previous series, Los Angeles is giving its opponents precious little time to make any kind of play with the puck.
The Devils have trailed in every playoff series so far this postseason, but the Stanley Cup Final is the first 2-0 deficit they have faced.
With a trip to Los Angeles and facing the possibility of a being swept, Parise addressed a media scrum in the Devils' home locker room for what may be the last time since he is set to be a free agent in the offseason.
For now, his focus is on raising a Stanley Cup for the Devils. In order to do that, he will have to get back to creating goals starting on Monday at the Staples Center.
“We all need to do a better job of generating offense,” he said. “Everyone needs to do better.”
Photos by Getty Images