Three key aspects of the Kings’ 2-1 overtime victory over the New Jersey Devils...
1. THREE PLAYERS, ONE PLAY
At the start of overtime, the thought is that one player will seize the moment and make a special play. For the Kings, three players did it on the game-winning sequence. Drew Doughty started the play when he alertly chipped the puck off the boards toward center ice. Justin Williams, with two defensemen skating hard toward him, blindly flipped the puck behind him. There was Anze Kopitar, who had read the play perfectly, picked up the puck, skated in alone and put a world-class move on Martin Brodeur to score the goal. The play doesn’t happen if Doughty doesn’t make that poised play, and if Williams isn’t smart enough to instantly flip the puck behind his back.
2. FOURTH LINE LEADS THE WAY
For the most part, the Kings looked pretty solid at the start of Game 1. Many of their young core players were appearing in their first Stanley Cup Finals game, but if anything, the Kings looked to be the calmer, more poised team in the first five minutes. None of that would have mattered, though, if the Kings didn’t get the first goal, and the fourth line came through at the 9:56 mark, when Jordan Nolan fought for the puck behind the net and centered it toward Colin Fraser, who scored on a one-timer. The fourth line, throughout the game, consistently brought strong forecheck pressure. Nolan was particularly effective and even created a couple other scoring chances.
3. GOALIES PUT ON A SHOW
Jonathan Quick was correct to point out, after the game, that he’s not playing against Martin Brodeur. The comparisons will be inevitable throughout the series, though, and in Game 1 each goalie did an outstanding job of anchoring his end. Brodeur, the wily veteran, made a couple of unbelievable saves, including his stacked-pad effort against Drew Doughty in the third period. Quick, in his first Stanley Cup Finals game, looked the same way he did in February or March. He nearly got beat a handful of times, but fought through net-front scrambles to deflect the puck or discourage shots. Both goalies gave their teams chances to win, and that’s all that is asked.