LOS ANGELES -- Steve Bernier sat in the locker room, refusing to find a television to watch what would turn out to be the most gut-wrenching moments of his career.
Right Wing - NJD
GOALS: 2 | ASST: 5 | PTS: 7
SOG: 22 | +/-: 3
The 27-year-old had just been ejected from Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final for boarding Kings defenseman Rob Scuderi, leaving the Devils to kill a five-minute major penalty and down a key member of the fourth line. It took three giant roars from the Staples Center crowd for Bernier to learn his mistake helped lead to the demise of his team's season.
The Kings scored three times during the major penalty to jump to a 3-0 lead and never looked back in a 6-1 win that eliminated the Devils and gave Los Angeles its first Stanley Cup in franchise history.
"It's extremely hard," Bernier said. "It's been a long playoff run for us and we had a lot of good things going for us. To finish on that note, it's not fun for sure. But at the same time, there's nothing I can do now."
The boarding penalty happened with Bernier leading the forecheck. Scuderi was playing the puck on his backhand along the boards and skating toward the back of his net. Before Bernier could stop, Scuderi put on the brakes and reversed the puck, and Bernier drilled Scuderi into the boards from behind.
Scuderi stayed on the ice for several minutes and emerged bloodied and dazed. He didn't play another shift during the first period, but returned for the start of the second period and played 17:01.
Bernier said he saw the replay and felt he didn't deserve a major penalty.
"From my point of view, I don't," Bernier said. "I know he stayed down. After that, I didn't see anything. It's a fast game. There were hard hits all over the ice. You want to help your team, you don't want to get five minutes and help them lose.
By 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 ›
"I'm going to finish my hit. I thought he was going to keep going forward and he put on the brakes. At the time, I was already committed to the hit. It's tough to stop when you get there that fast. I feel bad, for sure. I wish I could take that play back."
Seconds before Bernier's hit on Scuderi, the Devils' Stephen Gionta was hit from behind by Jarret Stoll between the benches, but there was no penalty on the play. Bernier said he never saw the hit and that didn't factor into his aggressive play on Scuderi.
"No, I didn't see that at all," Bernier said. "You want to have a strong forecheck, and as the first guy you need to finish your hit and that's exactly what I did and I got five minutes."
Devils captain Zach Parise bit his lip when asked about the no-call on the Stoll/Gionta play.
"We were aware of that," Parise said. "Trust me, I'd love to sound off on that right now."
When the Devils left the ice after 20 minutes down 3-0, Bernier was sitting alone in the locker room feeling about as bad a hockey player can. But his teammates offered words of support and refused to blame him for the tough situation in which they found themselves.
"I told him not to worry about it," Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur said. "It's not his fault. I'm sure he's blaming himself. That's the nature to do that. That was a big effect on the game. But again, he plays the game and we got success from him because of the way he played. I think it's just an unfortunate call. I didn't see it, so I can't judge if it was a bad call or a good call. It took us out of our chance to win a Stanley Cup."
"It's not his fault," Parise said. "You feel for him because in that situation you get a five-minute penalty and they score three times on it. Of course, you're going to feel like it's your fault. But it's not. We can't fault him for that. That's how he's going to play. You feel for him."
The Devils fell behind 4-0 before Adam Henrique scored their lone goal to make it a three-goal game. But that was as close as the Devils would come, as they were unable to dig out of the hole caused by Bernier's penalty that Brodeur never saw but called "unfortunate."
"It was just an unfortunate situation for a player who plays the game really hard," Brodeur said. "He's going to have to live with that and I don't think it's a fair thing. That's what happens when one person has the fate of a hockey game in their hands."