The New Jersey Devils have gone 6-4 this spring at the Prudential Center in Newark since the playoffs began in April.
It's conceivable they might not be playing another game there until October.
The Devils now trail the Los Angeles Kings, two games to none, in the 2012 Stanley Cup final after Jeff Carter's long-range wrister found the back of the New Jersey net with 6:18 remaining in overtime on Saturday night in another 2-1 Kings' win.
New Jersey outshot Los Angeles 33-32 overall and 10-6 in the third period, but came undone in the OT despite spending lengthy stretches in L.A.'s zone.
The Kings outshot the Devils 11-3 in the extra session, which ended when Carter rounded the New Jersey net right to left after he collected his own rebound from the right side. The former Philadelphia Flyers and Columbus Blue Jackets forward then skated out towards the blue line, veered through the left circle into the high slot, and whipped the puck through a partial screen past Martin Brodeur and inside the near post to end it.
That was after Ilya Kovalchuk nearly won it for the Devils late in regulation when his deflected shot struck the crossbar behind Jonathan Quick and bounded away. The Devils had their chances for a second straight contest—but except for Ryan Carter's successful third-period deflection, they couldn't muster more than one goal, and that again proved to be their undoing.
“Two overtime games, it could easily be 2-0 us,” Carter said afterwards at the Fire & Ice blog.
It's not, though.
New Jersey so far hasn't proven immune to the Kings' playoff magic that previously claimed Vancouver, St. Louis and Phoenix in just 14 games total.
L.A. is now 10-0 on the road this postseason, 4-0 in OT, and will be looking to wrap up the series—and its first-ever Stanley Cup title—when the venue shifts to the Staples Center for Games 3 and 4 on Monday and Wednesday, respectively, in California, a state where the Devils are 0-3 all time in the final round.
“It’s hard, but we’re not going to quit,” said Devils captain Zach Parise. “We’ll regroup and try to win Game 3 and (go) from there.”
History, however, isn't exactly on the Devils' side. Teams dropping the first two opening games at home in the Stanley Cup Finals in the last 11 instances have gone 2-9 in those series. The Boston Bruins won the Cup just last year after losing a pair of one-goal heartbreakers to open the final, but those games were played in Vancouver, where the Bruins ultimately prevailed in Game 7 after winning three times at home.
The 2011 Canucks also weren't like the 2012 Kings. L.A. wins on the road, plays solid defense, forechecks very well, and has a netminder who is quite difficult to beat. Add in being opportunistic with their offensive chances, and the Kings have done everything this postseason except be successful on the power play.
No matter. For the second straight game, the Devils came close. But, against the Kings this spring, close again proved to be not good enough.
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