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New Jersey Devils stay alive in Stanley Cup, beat Los Angeles Kings 3-1

Adam Henrique, front, celebrates his go-ahead goal with David Clarkson (23) and Alexei Ponikarovsky, who pick up the assists.

Associated Press

Adam Henrique, front, celebrates his go-ahead goal with David Clarkson (23) and Alexei Ponikarovsky, who pick up the assists.

LOS ANGELES — Adam Henrique scored the tiebreaking goal with 4:29 left as the Devils beat the Kings 3-1 Wednesday to avoid a sweep in the Stanley Cup final.

Patrik Elias and Ilya Kovalchuk also scored third-period goals for New Jersey, which forced the NHL to put the Cup back in its crate for a cross-country trip. Los Angeles' next chance for the first title of its 45-year history is Satur­day in Newark.

The Devils became just the sixth of 26 teams in Cup final history to force a Game 5 after falling behind 0-3.

Only eight teams have forced a Game 7 after falling behind 3-0 in any round. And only three have won the Game 7: the Maple Leafs over the Red Wings in the 1942 Cup final, the Islanders over the Penguins in the 1975 quarterfinals and the Flyers over the Bruins in the 2010 East semifinal.

"It's a tough situation, but we live another day," said Devils goalie Martin Brodeur, who made 21 saves. "We wanted to at least have one more game in our building for our fans. Hopefully, we'll make the best of it and come back (to Los Angeles)."

The loss was only the third of the postseason for the Kings. Like Wednesday's, the first two came after taking 3-0 series leads. And after each, they won Game 5.

"I think (wrapping it up) was definitely on our minds, but they found a way to get a late goal," Kings captain Dustin Brown said.

"We've just got to hit the reset button. We've always come back with a big rebound game."

After never trailing in the Cup final, Los Angeles never led in Game 4.

The game was tight-checking through two periods. But Elias' rebound goal put a hush over the Staples Center crowd. Drew Doughty tied it 60 seconds later during a power play.

But after so many minutes of tight defense, New Jersey won it with a goal in transition.

Ex-King Alexei Ponikarovsky got the puck to Clarkson, who found Henrique across the ice for a wrister that beat Jonathan Quick. For Clarkson, it was relief after being in the penalty box for Los Angeles' goal.

"That's probably the best feeling I've ever had in my whole career," Clarkson said. "I saw (Henrique) coming, so I got it to him. The shot was incredible."

For Henrique, a rookie, it was the third time he saved the Devils' season. He scored in double overtime of Game 7 to beat Florida in the first round. And he scored the overtime goal in Game 6 of the East final that eliminated the Rangers. Wednesday's goal was his first of the final.

Kovalchuk sealed the win with an empty-net goal.

"I think the last three games could have gone our way as easily as they've gone L.A.'s way," said Devils coach Peter DeBoer, whose team lost the first two games in overtime.

"We finally got rewarded."

Devils 0 0 3 3
Kings 0 0 1 1
Devils 0 0 3 3
Kings 0 0 1 1

First PeriodNone. PenaltiesParise, NJ (tripping), 3:02; Stoll, LA (hooking), 5:53; Brown, LA (tripping), 7:58; Salvador, NJ (interference), 19:15.

Second PeriodNone. PenaltiesSalvador, NJ (interference), 8:19.

Third Period1, New Jersey, Elias 5 (Salvador, Zubrus), 7:56. 2, Los Angeles, Doughty 4 (Richards, Kopitar), 8:56 (pp). 3, New Jersey, Henrique 4 (Clarkson, Ponikarovsky), 15:29. 4, New Jersey, Kovalchuk 8 (A.Greene, Salvador), 19:40 (en). PenaltiesClarkson, NJ (boarding), 8:52; Mitchell, LA (high-sticking), 17:10. Shots on GoalNew Jersey 8-3-13—24. Los Angeles 7-7-8—22. Power-play opportunitiesNew Jersey 0 of 3; Los Angeles 1 of 4. GoaliesNew Jersey, Brodeur 13-8-0 (22 shots-21 saves). Los Angeles, Quick 15-3-0 (23-21). A18,867 (18,118).

Devils 3

Kings 1

Stanley Cup final

Kings 3, Devils 1

Game 1: Kings 2, Devils 1 OT

Game 2: Kings 2, Devils 1 OT

Game 3: Kings 4, Devils 0

Wednesday: Devils 3, Kings 1

Saturday: at New Jersey, 8, Ch. 8

Monday: at Los Angeles, 8, Ch. 8 *

June 13: at New Jersey, 8, Ch. 8 *

* If necessary

New Jersey Devils stay alive in Stanley Cup, beat Los Angeles Kings 3-1 06/06/12 [Last modified: Thursday, June 7, 2012 7:58am]
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