Devils look to end Kings' road success, knot series
KINGS at DEVILS
(Los Angeles leads best-of-seven series, 1-0)
TV: NBC, CBC, RDS
Big Story: The Kings will go for their 10th straight road win in the playoffs and 12th in a row dating back to last season. If they get it, they will not only take a 2-0 lead in the series before it shifts back to Los Angeles next week, they will also tie the NHL record for most road wins in a single postseason. The Devils have to snap the Kings' impressive road winning streak in order to break even in the series after Anze Kopitar's overtime goal in Game 1 gave L.A. a 2-1 win.
Kings: They've been at their best in Game 2s this postseason, which of course bodes well for Saturday night at Prudential Center. The Kings are 3-0 in Game 2s (they are 13-2 in the playoffs) and they have their combined largest margin of victory in them at 13-4.
"It's not about what happened, who we played last time, anything like that," coach Darryl Sutter said. "I think we know our opponent is a lot tougher than anyone we played yet."
Kopitar's goal 8:13 into overtime gave the Kings the win in Game 1. To a man, the players and coaches all felt they were a bit sluggish to start the game and did not come close to playing their best. However, they were able to squeak out the win. Jonathan Quick needed to make only 17 saves and the Kings also got a first-period goal from Colin Fraser off a strong forecheck by Jordan Nolan.
In fact, L.A.'s fourth line of Fraser, Nolan and Brad Richardson provided some of their best five-on-five shifts in the game. Kings coach Darryl Sutter wasn't all that pleased with the way some of his top-end guys played, but he was still able to roll four lines and get strong games out of some of the bottom-six forwards.
"The first thing I could see (Wednesday) night, we did have some sluggish guys, and it was at the top end of our skill set in terms of players," Sutter said. "It doesn't bother me to play -- I don't call them our fourth line, I call it Colin Fraser and whoever is playing with him. So if they're on, they can play against anybody."
Devils: They're trying to look at the positives instead of the fact that they lost Game 1 and trail in the series. The Devils, much like the Kings, do not feel they played even close to their best game, but they still had a chance to win it in the third period and certainly in overtime.
They managed only 18 shots on goal, which they know is not enough to beat Quick, but some of their best chances came when the shot did not end up on net. For instance, David Clarkson misfired on several chances early in the game and Mark Fayne had a sure goal on his stick roughly 10 minutes into the third period, but the puck was bouncing and he muffed the shot wide right.
"For us, we felt that, yeah, we missed an opportunity because we were able to hang around against this team not playing our best game," center Travis Zajac said. "Still having a chance to win, that makes us feel pretty good that we can play better, be a little bit more successful."
To be successful in Game 2, the Devils know they have to move their feet better and be a lot quicker than they were in Game 1. They need to establish their forecheck early and avoid giving the puck away in the neutral zone, which they were guilty of more times than they would have liked in Game 1.
The Devils felt nerves were partially to blame for all that, but they should be gone now.
"I think as the game went on, we did get better," Zajac said. "We started to make some more plays. We started to play our aggressive style. So I think we take the positive out of that and we move on."
Who's Hot: Kopitar's OT winner was his second goal in as many games, third in the last four, and seventh of the playoffs. He has 12 points in the last nine games. … Clarkson has assists in back-to-back games.
Injury Report: Both teams are healthy and likely won't have any lineup changes from Game 1.
Stat Pack: A lot is being made of the Ilya Kovalchuk-Drew Doughty matchup from Game 1. Kovalchuk actually played only 49.4 percent of his even-strength shifts against Doughty and his defense partner Rob Scuderi. He played 41.1 percent against Willie Mitchell and Slava Voynov as well as 9.5 percent against Matt Greene and Alec Martinez. However, after playing only four of his first 11 even-strength shifts against Doughty and Scuderi, he played eight of his last 11.
Puck Drop: In answering a question about familiarity with the Devils, or lack thereof, Sutter had this gem of a line:
"Most of these guys watched Marty (Brodeur) when they were kids," he said.