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Devils stay alive again with 2-1 victory

by Dan Rosen
NEWARK, N.J. -- Belief continues to be the New Jersey Devils' biggest ally. They'll take it across the country with them for what just a few days ago seemed like an impossible opportunity in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final.
For the second time in as many games, the Devils fought off elimination and made sure the Stanley Cup stayed in its carrying case. They handed the Los Angeles Kings their first road loss of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in Game 5 Saturday at Prudential Center, 2-1, while also becoming the first team since 1945 to force a Game 6 in the Stanley Cup Final after losing the first three.
Game 6 is Monday at Staples Center (8 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, RDS). The Devils are now 10-1 in Games 4 through 7 this postseason.
"We're still alive, so we have a chance," Devils goalie Martin Brodeur said after making 25 saves, another impressive effort for the 40-year-old three-time Cup champion. "It's a difficult thing to get yourself ready for games like that. Now it's been two in a row. It drains you a lot. It takes a lot out of you. But, it's worth it."
The Devils made it worthwhile on the backs of Brodeur, captain Zach Parise, and unlikely offensive hero Bryce Salvador, who scored his fourth goal of the playoffs after scoring zero in 82 regular-season games.
After getting angry with a reporter on Friday for insinuating that his line was not playing well because it wasn't producing, Parise answered by giving the Devils the lead 12:45 into the first period. He scored it because he took his normal route on the forecheck and came up with a gift on a his stick courtesy of Kings goalie Jonathan Quick, who didn't put enough mustard on the puck as he tried to rim it around the end boards.
It was Parise's first goal and point of the series. It was also the Devils' first power-play goal in 16 opportunities against the Kings.
"I go into every game expecting Zach to do something big. He's that type of player," Devils coach Peter DeBoer said.  "I think you guys just [angered] him. That's all. Keep doing it."
After Justin Williams tied it with the only shot that legally beat Brodeur on Saturday -- a wrist shot to the blocker side from above the hash marks 3:26 into the second period -- Salvador scored on a point shot that deflected off Kings defenseman Slava Voynov with 10:55 to play in the second period.
It was the second goal a Devils defenseman has scored off of Voynov in the series. Anton Volchenkov was credited for one in Game 1.
The Devils had only six shots on goal through the first 28-plus minutes, but they had three on the shift that ended with Salvador's goal.
"We're looking for him to score a goal all year, so he peaked at the right time if you ask me," Brodeur said of Salvador.
The Devils clung to the lead and to their momentum in the series across the final 30-plus minutes because Brodeur was brilliant once again. He stopped all 14 shots he faced after Salvador scored, including a golden opportunity from Williams in the low slot during a Kings power play just 36 seconds after the goal horn blared for the Devils.
Brodeur also stoned Jarret Stoll on a breakaway during the time in between Williams' game-tying goal and Salvador's go-ahead and eventual game-winning goal. Stoll eventually did put the puck in the net later in the second period, but he used a high stick to do it and the goal was immediately waved off.
"I mean, what else can you say? His performance speaks for itself," DeBoer said of Brodeur. "It's the timing of it. You know, I think the fact we're 10-1 in Games 4-7 in a series is a testament to how he enjoys that type of pressure."
Los Angeles is down to just two chances to win its first Stanley Cup championship in franchise history, while the Devils are still hoping to become just the second team -- and the first in 70 years -- to win the Stanley Cup after losing the first three games of the Cup Final.
The Kings say their confidence remains strong, unwavering. Kings coach Darryl Sutter also said his team is not under any pressure, but Williams admitted they are feeling something else as well after losing their second straight game in regulation since March 24 and 26.
"Sure, there is anxiety," Williams said. "We haven't lost two games in a row. We've played pretty hard. This is the Stanley Cup Final -- it isn't supposed to be easy. This is a grind. They're a heck of a team over there with a lot of character and a lot of grit. They battled hard to keep that one-goal lead."
Meanwhile, the Kings did all they possibly could to try to get New Jersey off its game. For the first time all series the play got especially chippy in the third period.
Jeff Carter pulled Brodeur's sweater over his head during a scrum. Quick punched Adam Henrique in the back of the head after Henrique fell into him with 1:38 left in the game. Alexei Ponikarovsky and Dustin Penner were given matching roughing minors on the play. Dainius Zubrus and Mike Richards also had a little spat spill over into the Devils' post-game celebration.
The Devils aren't sure if the post-whistle stuff is a sign that they've frustrated the Kings, but they'll take it anyway.
"We just keep pushing," Henrique said. "There is no quit in here."
DeBoer, who all series has remained steadfast in his belief that as long as his team plays the right way it will get rewarded, may be getting proven right. Both Williams and Alec Martinez had shots hit off the post Saturday night, whereas the Devils got two bounces to go their way when Quick misplayed the puck leading to Parise's goal and Salvador's shot hit off Voynov.
"You know, we're probably saying what they said Games 1 and 2, where we got breaks and now they did. That's how even it is," Sutter said. "We hit a couple posts again, and you hope one goes off the post and in. I think if there's anything, you got to finish your opportunities. You got to work to get 'em. You pretty much have to not give up more than one."
The Kings have only one more game to give up in this series. They used to have three.
The Devils have hope. Their belief is only getting stronger.
"We could have packed it in two games ago. That's the bottom line," Brodeur said. "But you see we have a bunch of resilient guys that want to try to make history and try to win the Stanley Cup. We're not going to give up."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter: @drosennhl

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