Can’t Stop Kopitar: Kings Lead 1-0

On a night where the New Jersey Devils were unable to capitalize on several scoring opportunities, it seemed inevitable that the Los Angeles Kings would come away with a Game One victory. Anze Kopitar’s seventh goal of the postseason gave LA an overtime victory and an early series lead. The Devils will need to come out strong in Game Two and even up the series before hitting the road.

Both teams came out ready to play and were defensively sound. The Devils and Kings were limited to five SOG a piece in the opening twenty minutes; however, Colin Fraser broke the ice with his first postseason goal to put the Kings up 1-0. Fraser’s goal came at 9:56 of the first period. Andy Greene turned the puck over behind the net, Jordan Nolan jumped on the loose puck, and fed it in front to Fraser. This particular goal could be classified as a “softy” and one that I’m sure Brodeur would love to have back. David Clarkson air-mailed two shots that could have easily been in the net. Aside from Clarkson’s chances, the Devils did not produce much offense in the first. New Jersey went 0-for-1 on the power play in the opening period and trailed heading into intermission.

The Devils were able to break even in the middle period. Anton Volchenkov scored a much needed goal for New Jersey. The Devils’ defenseman put the puck on net and the rebound bounced off a Kings player in front and in. It seemed as though with the goal came an energy boost for New Jersey; the physical play began to pick up as well. Los Angeles and New Jersey both missed a power play opportunity in the second and were all knotted up at the end of forty minutes.

The third period was one of great intensity. Both teams had great chances and were unable to capitalize. The physical play from period number two carried over into the third. If there is anything impressive about tonight’s game for the Devils, it is the fact that they were able to stay out of the penalty box. Dainius Zubrus took the only penalty of the night for the Devils in period number two, and although they were physical, the Devils were smart. No goals, no penalties, and we head into overtime.

Frustrating. The Devils had several scoring opportunities in the overtime period. Mark Fayne missed a wide open (literally, WIDE OPEN) net on a rebound in front that would have won the game for New Jersey. The Kings won a battle along the boards and moved the puck out of the zone. Bryce Salvador and Zubrus both went after Justin Williams who had the puck at center ice. Kopitar skated freely down the middle and received a backhand pass from Williams. Kopitar then deeked out Brodeur to score the game-winning goal.

The Good…

  • The Devils managed to take only one penalty tonight. In order to play good hockey, the Devils need to be even strength or on a man advantage. In continuing with this pattern, the Devils will be just fine in the future.
  • Martin Brodeur–even though he let in a “softy” in the first, Brodeur kept the Devils in the game tonight with some unbelievable saves.

The Bad…

  • The lack of crowd energy tonight really disappointed me. It’s the Stanley Cup Final, for crying out loud. The Prudential Center needs to be a TAD bit louder!
  • The complete defensive breakdown on the game-winning goal. It just simply cannot happen.
  • Mark Fayne–I mean, seriously. How do you miss a WIDE OPEN net with the game on the line? Seems to me like it is time to give Larsson another whack at it. At this point, I’d be more confident with a broken stick laying on the ice than Fayne.

We have been down this road before, Devils Army. We lost Game One against the Flyers and the Rangers. The Devils need to come out strong on Saturday in Game Two. We can do this!

Above: Anze Kopitar of the Los Angeles Kings celebrates after scoring the game-winning goal in overtime against Martin Brodeur of the New Jersey Devils in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals in Newark, N.J., on Wednesday. (Photo by ELSA/GETTY IMAGES)

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