The Stanley Cup was on hand at Staples Center Wednesday night, but it never got the chance to make an appearance. Which meant 18,867 fans—some of them having waited 45 years for this moment—went home with hollow hearts.
With a little luck, several key saves from Martin Bordeur and by sticking to their game plan, the New Jersey Devils were to able spoil the Los Angeles Kings‘ Stanley Cup party with a 3-1 victory in Game 4.
The lucky part being that the Devs escaped the first period tied with the Kings after L.A. rang the iron twice—once on a redirect by Justin Williams and the other off a slap shot from Anze Kopitar. Brodeur showed the type of poise that has made him a world-class goaltender, with a key breakaway save on Simon Gagne near the end of the second period to keep the score deadlocked at zero.
It was the third period when the Devils‘ perseverance finally paid off, when a rebound goal by Patrik Elias gave the Devils their first lead of the series. After a controverial boarding penalty was called on David Clarkson, the Kings quickly responded with a Drew Doughty power-play goal. But that didn’t deter the Devils. With just under five minutes to go in regulation, rookie Adam Henrique wristed a laser over the blocker of Jonathan Quick to give the Devs the 2-1 lead. Ilya Kovalchuck would finish things off with an empty-netter, effectively forcing a Game 5 and giving New Jersey a chance to die another day.
“More than yesterday,” Brodeur said when asked if he has more belief now. “You know, I think we wanted to make them jump on a plane and come to New Jersey. We had to go anyway — might as well get a game over there. I think it’s a tough situation, you know, for us to be in. We pulled it off, one game. We’ll take it one game at a time. But I’m sure they’re not happy to make that trip. We’ll try to make it miserable for them again.”