Anze Kopitar scored just over eight minutes into overtime in Game 1 to move the Los Angeles Kings within three wins of hoisting the Stanley Cup. The New Jersey Devils won't go down without a fight, however, and will be looking to pick up a key home victory in Game 2.
The first game featured a lot of sloppy play from both sides, which isn't a major surprise considering the high stakes. Nobody wanted to make a big mistake, so there were a lot of safe plays, and that doesn't lend itself to a high-scoring battle.
Now that everybody has a game under his belt, the pace should pick up on Saturday night, especially since the Devils can't afford to lose another game on home ice. Look for them to show more aggressiveness early and often in Game 2.
Let's take a look at all the key information for the second game of the Stanley Cup Finals.
Where: Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.
When: Saturday, June 2 at 8 p.m. ET
Watch: NBC and CBC
Listen: KTLK 1150 AM (Kings) and WFAN 660 AM (Devils)
Live Stream: CBC HNIC
Key Injuries (via TSN):
Kings: Scott Parse (hip) and Simon Gagne (concussion)
Devils: Henrik Tallinder (leg)
What They're Saying
Helene Elliott of the Los Angeles Times passed along some thoughts from Kopitar, who praised New Jersey's style of play and talked about the only way for the Kings to beat it:
You know, [the Devils] don't give up a whole lot. You have to be careful going through the neutral zone, that you don't make any turnovers, because they got some speedy forwards, some forwards obviously that can finish. You have to await turnovers and just make sure you make strong plays.
Devils goalie Martin Brodeur has seen it all during his storied career, so as you'd expect one loss didn't lead him down a path of doom and gloom. He had a positive outlook, based on a report from Rich Chere of The Star-Ledger.
We'd have taken the position of losing the first game of the Stanley Cup finals if we were guaranteed to be here. It's a little cliched to say, but we're fine. We didn't play our best game and we competed with them. They're a good hockey team, there's no doubt, but there are things we can do a little bit better to have success.
Most Important Player to Watch: Zach Parise
The Devils will be in deep trouble if Parise doesn't bounce back from a lackluster performance in Game 1. He registered just three shots and no points, despite playing over 21 minutes. To make matters worse, he was on the ice for both Los Angeles goals, finishing the night with a minus-two rating.
The 27-year-old American must find a way to generate more scoring chances moving forward while also playing more sound hockey in his own end. The playoffs are a time when any weakness you have will be exposed, and he found that out the hard way last night.
Parise has immense talent, and the poor showing should provide him with the motivation necessary to get things turned around before it's too late. Don't be surprised if he's the best player on the ice in Game 2.
Key Matchup: Dustin Brown vs. Ilya Kovalchuk
Which top-line winger will step up on Saturday? The answer to that question will have a major impact on the outcome of the second game. Neither star did much in the series opener, but both have to potential to take control at any time.
Brown has been the breakout star of the postseason, registering 16 points in 15 games so far. What makes him such a tough matchup is his all-around ability, including a willingness to play physical to generate energy for his team.
On the flip side, Kovalchuk is a pure scorer. So the fact he finished with just one shot makes it easy to see why the Devils dropped Game 1. A better outing in the next game should get New Jersey right back in the series.
Devils 3, Kings 2