NEWARK, N.J. – The Stanley Cup coronation for the Los Angeles Kings is delayed.
The New Jersey Devils suddenly have made things a lot more uncertain.
While the Kings are still a victory away from the first Cup in the club’s 45-year history, the Devils are only two wins short of pulling off a feat in the finals that no team has managed for 70 years, rebounding from an 0-3 deficit.
The Devils moved halfway to matching that greatest finals comeback as defenseman Bryce Salvador scored on a deflection off a defenseman to give New Jersey a 2-1 victory over the Kings in Game 5.
The first goal came on a smart play by captain Zach Parise, the second on a deflection and the club got yet another clutch performance from 40-year-old goalie Martin Brodeur.
Parise ended a five-game goal drought on a rare mistake by Kings goalie Jonathan Quick, and Brodeur stopped 25 shots to help the Devils end the Kings’ 10-game postseason winning streak on the road this season and 12-game run over the past two years, both NHL records.
“We survived out there,” Brodeur said. “I don’t think we played our greatest game, but we found a way to win. These are important games to win, especially at home knowing these guys play really well on the road.
Parise said Brodeur was the difference.
“That’s how a goalie wins the game for you,” Parise said about Brodeur.
Justin Williams scored for the Kings, whose once seemingly insurmountable 3-0 series lead has been cut to 3-2. Game 6 is Monday night in Los Angeles.
More importantly, the Devils have the Kings wondering what’s going on for the first time in the postseason.
This marks the first time the Kings have lost consecutive games in this year’s playoffs.
The Devils, meanwhile, have already made some finals history and now have the chance for more.
Only the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs came back in a best-of-seven finals and won.
Three years later, the Detroit Red Wings rallied from a 3-0 deficit to tie the series, but they lost Game 7 to Toronto.
Those were the only other two teams to come back from 0-3 to force a Game 6 until the Devils.
“It’s a difficult thing to get yourself ready for games like that,” Brodeur said. “Now it’s been two (must-win) in a row. It takes a lot out of you but it is worth it. I think that’s what the guys have been concentrating on all day, leaving nothing out there.
“… Now we are going to LA again to try to ruin the party again,” the three-time Cup winner said. “They are so close to winning the Stanley Cup that I am sure it is getting to them a little bit, having all these chances and not being able to capitalize a little bit. We’re looking just to stay alive.”
The Kings haven’t played terribly in losing the last two games, but the Devils have made the plays when it counted or gotten the breaks when they needed them.
Take Salvador’s winner, his first goal in seven games. His shot from the left point was deflected right in front of Quick, hit off the chest of Kings defenseman Slava Voynov and rebounded into the net at 9:05 of the second period. It was the second time in this series that a point shot by a Devils defenseman hit off Voynov and caromed past his goaltender.
This one turned out to be a winner because Brodeur stood tall the rest of the way and had one shot hit off the goalpost and had a goal by Jarret Stoll on a second-period power play waved off because he hit the rebound with his stick too high.
Brodeur’s biggest save might have been with 7.6 seconds to go when he stopped a slap shot by Mike Richards from the right circle.
The Kings, overtime winners in the first two games in the series in New Jersey, never got another shot.
“It’s the time of the year, you’re going to lose games, you’re going to win games,” Quick said.