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Kings hope to seal the deal in Game 4

by Corey Masisak

(Los Angeles leads series, 3-0)


Big Story: The Kings can claim the Stanley Cup for the first time in their 45-year history with a win, while the Devils will try to secure another home game and become only the sixth team in 26 tries to win Game 4 in the Final after losing the first three contests.

Team Scope:

Devils: With the Devils one game from elimination, coach Peter DeBeor switched his lines around a bit at practice Tuesday. The big takeaway was Peter Sykora, who hasn't dressed since Game 3 of the conference finals, was on a line with Patrik Elias and Dainius Zubrus while Jacob Josefson, who has been centering the third line this series, was skating with the guys who have been scratches.

DeBeor didn't confirm Sykora would play, but it could be a move to help ignite the offense. New Jersey has just two goals in three games in this series, so the Devils are going to have to find a way to solve Jonathan Quick if they want to avoid elimination. The team's top line of Ilya Kovalchuk, Travis Zajac and Zach Parise remained together, while Adam Henrique centered a line with David Clarkson and Alexei Ponikarovsky.

Kings: No changes are expected for Game 4 from the Kings, who are one win from completing a historic march through the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Simon Gagne joined the lineup for Game 3, but only saw action on the fourth line. The Los Angeles machine kept rolling, and the Kings can be the first team to go 16-2 in a postseason since the 1988 Edmonton Oilers.

Quick has moved to the front of the Conn Smythe Trophy race, while Los Angeles' other stars -- Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown and Drew Doughty -- have also played well against the Devils. The Kings have been able to frustrate the Devils at the defensive end, and find just enough offense against Martin Brodeur. Even the power play, which had been 3-for-71 in 5-on-4 opportunities, clicked in Game 4 as the Kings scored twice with the extra man in the third period.

Who's Hot: The Devils' fourth line has produced to or beyond expectations this postseason. Ryan Carter has three goals in the past five games, including one in this series, and four in the past eight contests. Kopitar and Jeff Carter have each scored as many goals as the Devils in this series. Kopitar has seven goals and 14 points in the past 11 games.

Injury Report: Henrik Tallinder (blood clot) traveled with the Devils to Los Angeles and has been practicing with the team, but will not play in Game 4. Gagne returned to the lineup for the Kings for the first time since Dec. 26, and the Kings expect to have their full compliment of players Wednesday night.

Stat Pack: Quick currently has the lowest goals against average (1.36) and the highest save percentage (.950) in NHL playoff history among goaltenders with at least 13 games played in one postseason. He has a .974 save percentage in the Cup Final -- Patrick Roy's .976 save percentage in 1996 for Colorado is the record.

Puck Drop: The Devils have never been swept in a playoff series before. They need offense from anyone. Kovalchuk and Parise have absorbed most of the attention because they have no goals in this series, but the Devils need more from their second- and third-line guys as well. 

"I think we've got to find a way to create more traffic, bear down on the chances we're getting," Clarkson said. "We've got a lot of heart in that locker room. We're going to continue to push. This has been a lot of fun for us. It's not over. We're going to come out next game and hopefully get one in there early and keep pushing."

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