In retrospect the NHL probably should have stuck with its’ old Stanley Cup Final campaign, “history will be made,” because the New Jersey Devils are on the verge of doing just that.
After going down 3-0 in the series to the Los Angeles Kings, the Devils have made a triumphant comeback to cut the series lead to just one game and put the brakes on what seemed to be an all but guaranteed L.A. championship.
Last night the Devils not only continued their quest to do something that has been done since 1942 by the Toronto Maple Leafs, but they ended what was one of the best road playoff streaks in pro sports.
And New Jersey did all of this when they, admittedly, didn’t play their best game of the series.
“I thought we survived out there,” Martin Brodeur, who made 25 saves for Devils, said after the game. “I don't think we played our greatest game, but we found a way to win.”
“I thought they controlled the first period. They were the better team in the first period, which was a little surprising. I don't know whether it was nerves for us or what. But they controlled the period,” Devils head coach Peter DeBoer added.
DeBoer was quick to credit Brodeur as well saying that he “made some big saves.” The 40-year-old future Hall of Famer has made big saves throughout this Stanley Cup Final series against the Kings. It’s just that he could never get the offense to back up his effort because Jonathan Quick has seemed unbeatable.
But with their backs against the wall it seems as though the Devils have found a way to turn the man who seemed superhuman back to a mere mortal. Though, that’s not to say Quick has turned into a dud, but rather New Jersey has found ways to force him to make mistakes and finish on their scoring chances.
The most blaring example of this would be Zach Parise’s goal in the first period of last night's Game 5, in which he scored off a bad giveaway behind the net by Quick. Instead of wrapping the puck around the boards, it bounced off the boards and was cut off by Parise, who was able to bury the puck in the virtually empty net.
It is those types of breaks that the Devils need to continue to take advantage of going forward.
It doesn’t hurt either that the Devils top players are finally finding ways to put the puck in the net. Albeit Ilya Kovalchuk’s goal in Game 4 was an empty netter and Parise’s was an easy one as well, New Jersey still needs those guys to score if they expect to comeback.
“It's always nice to contribute,” Parise explained. “I still think that our line was playing fine. We were getting a lot of great chances. It wasn't going in for us. Tonight we get lucky, and that's the difference.”
It was the difference, indeed, and the Devils will need to duplicate it when the puck drops for Game 6 in Los Angeles. If they do, the Devils will be one step closer to making history. Photo credit: Getty Images