NEWARK -- The good news for the New Jersey Devils was that they scored three times in the third period of Game 4 in the Stanley Cup Final to extend the series for at least another game. The better news was who scored the three goals.
After getting goals from defenseman Anton Volchenkov in Game 1 and fourth-liner Ryan Carter in Game 2 before being shut out 4-0 in Game 3, the Devils finally got some offense from their top players to keep their season alive.
Perhaps the best news was that the Devils' top scorer, Ilya Kovalchuk, sealed the win by hitting the empty net in the final 20 seconds to complete the 3-1 victory in Los Angeles. Kovalchuk had gone without a point in the first three games while managing just five shots -- one less than he had in New Jersey's series-winning Game 6 victory against the Rangers in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Kovalchuk finished the night with four shots and played his best offensive game of the series.
"It's important for a player's confidence, whether it's an empty-netter or there's a goalie in there," said Devils captain Zach Parise, who's gone five games without a point. "It's important for a player to get on the board and just feel better. So for us, that's going to go a long way when he's feeling good about his game."
If Kovalchuk's goal was encouraging, then Patrik Elias' goal to open the scoring in Game 4 was uplifting. The franchise leader in playoff goals, assists, and points, Elias scored his first goal of the Final and just his second in more than a month. The winning goal came from rookie Adam Henrique, another of the Devils' top offensive players who has struggled in this series.
"We know within the room we have the personnel to complete this comeback,'' said Henrique, who scored the series clinching goals in overtime against Florida in Game 7 and the Rangers in Game 6.
"There are a lot of people out there that don't think we can do it, but it really doesn't matter what anybody else thinks, it matters what we think in the room. We have to string together four in a row and every game is do or die. Every game is Game 7 for us and we have the confidence in the room we can do it. It will be tough but we are prepared to do it.''
Devils' coach Peter DeBoer hopes the trend continues for his top-line talent in Game 5 on Saturday night (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, RDS).
"I thought games 2, 3, and 4 we played some pretty solid hockey games. Good enough to win any of those three games. We just couldn't get the first goal, we couldn't get an overtime winner, it just wasn’t working," DeBoer said. "We need guys to start scoring. Just like a win, you hope one goal translates into some confidence and more [goals]. It can't do anything but help everybody's mindset."
Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer