LOS ANGELES -- With the Stanley Cup inside the Staples Center andcelebratory champagne on ice the Los Angeles Kings were set tothrow the biggest hockey celebration a city famous for parties hasever seen. But the National Hockey League's (NHL) championship trophy failedto make an appearance as New Jersey Devils rookie Adam Henrique putthe Kings' coronation on hold when he scored the winning goal latein Wednesday's Game 4. In that instant, a runaway series that had been viewed as a formalcoronation turned into somewhat of a nail biter with both teamsjetting east for Saturday's Game 5 in New Jersey, where the Kingswill have another shot at glory. We wanted to make them jump on a plane and come to New Jersey, Devils goalie Martin Brodeur, whose team trails the best-of-sevenseries 3-1, said after staving off elimination. |
We had to goanyway. Might as well get a game over there. I'm sure they're not happy to make that trip ... We'll try tomake it miserable for them again. While the Kings were not happy about having to head east there wereno alarm bells sounding in the Los Angeles dressing, justdisappointment at not being able to capture the 45-year-oldfranchise's first Stanley Cup in front of a record home crowd thatincluded a host of Hollywood A-listers.
In a postseason that has produced a string of records and firsts,if there has been one chink in the Kings' armor it has been aninability to finish off an opponent after getting them on theropes. In each of their four playoff rounds the Kings have raced to a 3-0series lead but were unable to close out their opponents in Game 4on three occasions. The Kings insist they never lost focus or looked too far aheadduring the Finals and that it has been the media and fans that havegotten caught up in all the excitement not the team. Everyone was putting the cart before the horse.
It's a goodlesson for us, and a good lesson for the media and the fans, LosAngeles defenseman Matt Greene told reporters. I said that so you (media) can stop asking (about us winning theStanley Cup). You guys get real excited, which is human nature, but... Certainly, the odds still heavily favor the Kings, who have been aperfect 10-0 on the road this post-season and arrive in Newarkstill with a commanding 3-1 lead.
Only once before, the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs, has a team climbedout of 3-0 hole to lift the Cup and in each of the last four finalsthe Stanley Cup has been awarded on the road. After watching their attack sputter through the first three gamesof the series, the Devils offense started to hum late in Game 4. Wednesday's three third period goals were more than the Devilsscored in the first three games combined and suddenly Kings goalieJonathan Quick, who had gone nearly 139 minutes without allowing agoal, looked ordinary in allowing two tallies in a little over sixminutes. New Jersey's best forwards, who had failed to make an impact in theseries were among their best performers in Game 4 with captain ZachParise and Ilya Kovalchuk a constant threat. We showed it's not over, said Devils rugged forward DavidClarkson, who set up Henrique's game winner.
It's tough when youget a 1-1 game like that going into the last couple of minutes, butwe did a great job of not giving up and getting pucks on net andthat's the reason we won. We are a hard working team and we play with our heart every nightand this thing's not over yet.
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