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With loss in rear-view mirror, Devils focus on Game 2

by Dan Rosen

NEWARK, N.J. -- Devils right wing Ilya Kovalchuk fielded 10 questions from the media Saturday morning. As the 11th was being asked, he smiled, gave a quick one-word response, turned around, and headed for the exit.

Can you blame him?

Kovalchuk, like the rest of his teammates, is sick and tired of talking about how the Devils lost Game 1 in the Stanley Cup Final and what they have to do better in Game 2 at the Prudential Center on Saturday (8 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, RDS).


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"It's all behind us," Kovalchuk said in response to the 10th question. "It doesn't make any sense to talk about it anymore. We just gotta go out there and make sure we're not going to make the same mistakes we made in Game 1."

Game 1 on Wednesday seems like forever ago at this point, but while the Devils are admittedly antsy to get back to the action after two full days off they at least feel they were able to use the time between games wisely.

The coaches spent the better part of Thursday going over the game film and jotting down notes. The players were given the day off, even though some still showed up at Prudential Center for treatment or to work out off the ice.

They practiced and studied film Friday, and had their normal pre-game meetings and skate Saturday morning.

"We had that next day off, which is good," Devils forward David Clarkson said. "You do the thing with your family and get your mind away from everything. The next day you go back to work, go over the little things, not just the ones you didn't do well but what you did do well. That's something that has been very good for us, the coaching staff putting together clips not just of the things that they thought we did bad, but the things we did good. It's a reminder of what we have ahead and what we have to do."

The reminders are important, but the Devils already knew in the moments after Game 1 what they have to do better in Game 2.

They have to be more aggressive with their forecheck and they have to have better execution. Seventeen shots on goal against Kings goalie Jonathan Quick is simply not enough to beat him.

"We have to put a lot of pressure on them right from the get-go and just dictate our pace," Kovalchuk said. "We can't sit back against that team."

And they can't dwell on what happened in Game 1 -- at least not anymore.

"It's all behind us. It doesn't make any sense to talk about it anymore. We just gotta go out there and make sure we're not going to make the same mistakes we made in Game 1."
-- Devils' forward Ilya Kovalchuk on making adjustments in time for Game 2

"You have to be able to move forward right away," Devils center Adam Henrique said. "You can't sit on that emotionally. You have to put it behind you as soon as you can. It [stinks] coming off a loss, you don't feel great about it, but there is not much you can do from that point. You just move ahead."

Clarkson said he was able to move ahead as soon as he got home after Game 1.

"You realize in the playoffs you've got to let it go and that's something we've done all playoffs," he said. "We lost Game 1 to Philly, we lost Game 1 to the Rangers, and our leadership, the people in this room, the coaching staff would always let us know that one is behind us, let's go out and have a better game. By the time I got home and was sitting down, getting ready to go to bed, I was trying to prepare for the next game."

It's only a few hours away now -- finally.

"I don't think it's a perfect scenario, all the days off. I don't think anyone enjoys that. You want to play," Devils coach Peter DeBoer said. "You get to this point, as coaches you get tired of looking at tape, analyzing -- you analyze it to death. From a player's perspective, they have that nervous energy. The only release is dropping the puck and playing. It is what it is and you just deal with it the best you can."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

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