By John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist / Bracket Challenge Blog
Teams spend six months battling for the home-ice advantage. The Los Angeles Kings continue to turn that strategy on its head.
The Kings made it 10 wins in as many playoff games away from Staples Center this spring when Jeff Carter's overtime goal gave them a 2-1 victory against the New Jersey Devils in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final. The 10 road wins match the record held by the 1995 and 2000 Devils and the 2004 Calgary Flames -- but L.A. is the only one of those teams to reach 10 road wins without a loss.
Kings of overtime -- Four of the Kings' 10 victories have come in overtime, including their wins in Game 1 and 2 of the Final. All four of the OT victories have come on the road -- a big reason that the guys in the white sweaters are now 16-9 this spring.
Counting their five-game loss to Montreal in 1993, the Kings have played seven games all-time in the Stanley Cup Final -- and five of them have gone into overtime. L.A. lost Games 2-3-4 to Montreal in OT 19 years ago.
Road teams continue to dominate overtime in the Stanley Cup Final as well. They have won seven of the past eight OT games, 13 of the past 16 and 18 of the 23 played since 1990. Overall, the visiting team has won 45 of the 75 overtime games in the Final since 1927 (not including a pair of ties).
History's on their side -- The Kings became the 12th team to open the Final with a pair of victories on the road, and history says the odds they'll hoist the Stanley Cup for the first time are pretty good.
Nine of the first 11 teams that won Games 1 and 2 on the road went on to win the Cup. Only the Detroit Red Wings in 1942 (against Toronto) and 1966 (against Montreal) captured the first two games on the road and failed to go home with the championship.
It's the fourth straight year in which a team has won the first two games of the Final -- Detroit (2009), Chicago (2010) and Vancouver (2011) all started by winning Games 1 and 2 on their home ice, but only the Blackhawks went on to win the Cup.
Streak busted -- The Devils did succeed in doing something that no one had done for a month -- score a third-period goal against Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick.
Ryan Carter's deflection at 2:59 of the third period was the first goal allowed by Quick after the second period since Game 3 of the second round, when Chris Stewart of the Blues scored at 4:35 of the third period. Quick had gone seven consecutive third periods (and three overtimes) without allowing a goal until Carter's tally.
Be-deviled again -- Martin Brodeur will own most of the major goaltending records when he retires. But one area in which he's never excelled is winning overtime games in the playoffs -- a problem that has surfaced again in the Final.
Brodeur played in playoff overtime game No. 40 on Thursday -- by far the most of any active goaltender -- and the loss was No. 24. He's dropped his last four OT decisions in the Final; Anaheim won Games 3 and 4 in 2003.
Remember when -- If it seems like a long time since the first two games of the Final went past regulation -- well, that's because it was.
The Kings' OT victories in Games 1 and 2 marked just the third time since the best-of-seven format was adopted in 1939 that the first two games of the Final went past regulation. Montreal won Games 1 and 2 against Boston in 1946, and the Canadiens and Maple Leafs split the first two games in 1951. Montreal's win in Game 2 turned out to be the only loss for the Leafs in a series that saw all five games go into overtime.
The back-to-back overtime games were the first in the Final since Calgary and Tampa Bay went past regulation in Games 5 and 6 eight years ago. The Flames won Game 5 at Tampa but the Lightning stayed alive with a Game 6 win in Calgary before winning the seventh game in regulation at home.
Game 2 snippets -- The Devils, who managed only 17 shots on goal in Game 1, had exceeded that total before the end of the second period in Game 2. They finished with 33, one more than the Kings. L.A.'s 11 shots in the 13:42 of overtime were more than half the total the Kings managed through 60 minutes -- L.A. was outshot 30-21 in regulation.
Amazingly, the Kings were credited with only one giveaway in the 73:42 of playing time. The Devils had eight. New Jersey had seven of the 10 takeaways in the game.
After a slow start, Jarret Stoll was again the best King in the faceoff circle. Stoll was 9-1 in Game 1; he lost three of four draws in the first period but wound up 11-9. The Kings finished 38-33 in the circle after going 7-9 in the opening period.
The hitting tapered down from Game 1 -- but only slightly. The Devils were credited with 35 hits in Game 2 to 32 for Los Angeles; a drop from their 44-35 margin in the opener.