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Devils' power play searches for answers

by Dan Rosen

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Following the 2-1 overtime loss Saturday night, Ilya Kovalchuk called the Devils effort on the power play in Game 2 "disgusting."

Devils coach Peter DeBoer didn't think it was that bad.

"A little harsh," DeBoer said when asked about Kovalchuk's comments. "Hopefully a little is lost in translation there."

DeBoer drew a laugh with that comment, which was intended to be light-hearted. The truth is maybe Kovalchuk was being overly negative about the effectiveness, or lack thereof, of power play, but his attitude about it is understandable in light of how the game ended with Jeff Carter scoring in overtime for a 2-1 win.

A power-play goal in either of the first two games would have enough to have the Devils even in the Stanley Cup Final or perhaps even ahead 2-0 going into Game 3 Monday at Staples Center (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS).

New Jersey is instead down 0-2 after back-to-back 2-1 overtime losses. Its power play is 0-for-6 with only five shots on goal.

"I think 5-on-5 and shorthanded, we played really well (in game 2)," Kovalchuk said. "The power play has to be better. That's a key in those kinds of games. When you've got a power play, even if you're not scoring you've got to create momentum. All playoffs long we were good on the power play and if we were not scoring we had momentum from our chances. Those two games, we were just awful. We've got to be better."

Considering the Kings are pretty darn impressive on the penalty kill, it's fair to wonder if the Devils' power play can be better.

L.A. has killed off 58 of 63 power plays in the playoffs. The Canucks scored three power-play goals on them and the Coyotes got two. The Blues were blanked on 17 opportunities.

"They've got a really good penalty kill," Devils captain Zach Parise admitted. "They pressure at the right times. I think they make really good reads. When there is a bouncing puck they jump pretty well. They make it tough when you're breaking in the zone. You're not a lot of times getting in clean. You've got to dump it in and try to retrieve it. They make it hard, but once we do get it in it would be to our benefit just one, two passes and try to get something to the net."

Kovalchuk said the same thing -- that the Devils have to simplify things on the power play. He said they were guilty of trying to make too many fancy plays and passes through four and five guys that just aren't going to work against any PK, let alone the one that Kings are deploying so successfully in these playoffs.

"They've got a lot of confidence on their penalty kill," Parise added. "Similar to us, they challenge. They go for shorthanded goals. That's hard on a power play."

Somehow, the Devils have to fight through it. They realize finding a way on the power play could be the key to finding themselves back in this series.

"The last two games we had some early power play opportunities and didn't capitalize on them," Parise said. "Who knows, if you do, it could change the game around."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter: @drosennhl

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