LOS ANGELES -- The New Jersey Devils surprised many by advancing to the Stanley Cup Final as a No. 6 seed one season after missing the playoffs. In the end, they ran into a better, even more surprising team, the Los Angeles Kings.
The Devils fought back from down 3-0 in the best-of-7 series to force a Game 6, but a five-minute major for boarding assessed to forward Steve Bernier in the first period ultimately led to their demise. The Kings scored three times on the power play and rolled to a 6-1 win Monday at Staples Center for their first championship in franchise history.
How did the Devils come up two games short of the fourth title in the club's history? Here are five reasons:
1. They couldn't solve Jonathan Quick: There was nothing wrong with the play of Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur in the series, but Quick was at another level throughout the Final. Even in the Devils' two victories, Quick allowed a total of four goals. In Games 1 and 2, which were complete toss-ups, Quick managed to outplay Brodeur by the slimmest of margins. Sometimes in the Cup Final, that's all it takes to wind up on the losing end.
Kings rout Devils 6-1 to win Stanley CupBy Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer
The Los Angeles Kings, on the strength of three power-play goals in the first period, finished off the New Jersey Devils with a 6-1 victory in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final, earning the franchise's first championship in its 45-year history. READ MORE ›
2. Special teams failed them: The Devils had a record-setting penalty kill in the regular season while the Kings entered the Final with one of the worst power plays of all time in the playoffs. But when the Kings needed their power play most, it came up with three goals in Game 6 and six in the series. Entering the Final, the Kings were 6-for-75 on the power play. The Devils also couldn't convert at 5-on-4, scoring just one power-play goal in Game 5. During a one-minute 5-on-3 early in Game 3, the Devils failed to score. The Kings went on to score four goals and win that game.
3. Steve Bernier's major penalty: It's tough to lay so much blame for a loss in a six-game series on one play, but Bernier's hit from behind on Kings defenseman Rob Scuderi was the difference in the clinching game. The Devils gathered momentum with wins in Games 4 and 5 and were holding strong midway through the first period of Game 6. But the Kings scored three times during the five-minute major to blow the game open.
4. Nothing from Ilya Kovalchuk: Perhaps the star was playing with a severe injury, but he simply didn't deliver during the Final. His only goal was into an empty net in Game 5, and it was his only point in six games. He wasn't the only Devil who played below expectations against the Kings, but no other Devil carries the offensive responsibility he does.
5. The Kings were just better: Let's face it -- the Kings came into the Final as favorites for a reason. They stormed through the West with a record of 12-2 and eliminated the conference's top three seeds along the way. The Kings were deeper and bigger at forward, more talented on defense, and have a goaltender worthy of a Vezina Trophy. The Devils gave the Kings their biggest scare of the playoffs, but they simply couldn't match up with Los Angeles.
Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo