The Devils are down 2-0 heading into tonight's pivotal Game 3 after dropping two at home to the Kings, who are undefeated in 10 games away from Staples Center. As the series heads West, the Devils will need to win on the road as well to keep this series close.
Their odds of winning improved by coming to Los Angeles. It's the only place the Kings have lost this postseason, going 4-2 at home thus far. But New Jersey has much to do if it wants to catch L.A. and earn a shot at the cup, starting with tonight in Game 3.
Here are three things the Devils need to do to win tonight.
Control the Faceoff
New Jersey needs to keep possession of the puck to generate scoring chances in Game 3. Puck possession starts for the Devils at the faceoff.
In Game 2, Devils center Adam Henrique won only seven of 19 faceoffs. Jacob Josefson also struggled, winning eight of 17.
For the Devils to control the faceoff in Game 3, they will need everyone to win the small battles throughout the game. The faceoff game can be a crucial element that may seem unimportant, but it will prove vital to the outcome.
Through two games, Los Angeles leads the faceoff battle 69-58. If New Jersey can make a dent in that lead and get a few extra possessions from faceoff wins, those possessions could be the difference between winning and losing.
Stop Giving the Puck Away
New Jersey is giving the puck to the Kings way too much if it wants to win this series.
In Game 1, the Devils gave the puck away 11 times. In Game 2, they lowered that number to eight.
While they are improving, they are still way behind Los Angeles in giveaways. The Kings are playing an extremely disciplined game, giving the puck away only seven times through two games.
If the Devils want to compete with the Kings, they need to play as disciplined as possible. Sloppy play and mishandled pucks can lead to goals at the other end.
If It Goes to OT, Keep Up Shot Production
The Devils did a much better job in Game 2 of putting shots on net. With Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick playing at an incredible level, New Jersey needed to put the puck on target as much as possible to test the young goalie.
But when the game moved to overtime, New Jersey's shot production completely fell off. After posting 30 shots in regulation, the Devils could manage only three shots on goal before the Kings ended the game.
Quick will not be easy to be beat, but taking fewer shots won't help anything. With the goaltending being as good as it has been these playoffs from both Quick and Martin Brodeur, it's not crazy to think Game 3 is destined for overtime as well.
The Devils need to work the puck toward the net and keep it out of their zone in OT. The game, as well as the balance of the series, can be lost in a split-second in an overtime game. New Jersey needs to make the most of its opportunities if it gets to this point.