SCF Game 3 Recap: Devils blanked 4-0, down 3-0 in series

2012 Stanley Cup Finals, New Jersey Devils vs LA KingsThere really isn’t a whole lot to say after last night’s game for Devils fans.  They continued to struggle offensively for many reasons, including the brilliant goaltending on Jonathan Quick for the Kings.  Martin Brodeur wasn’t able to keep the game scoreless long enough to keep his team in it, and judging by Quick’s performance, Brodeur might have had to keep the game scoreless into an overtime or two if the Devils were going to have a shot at getting back in the series.  Instead, Quick shut the Devils out, and the Kings doubled their goal total from the first two games in Game 3, cruising to a 4-0 victory.

The first period of Game 3 was a microcosm of the series in a nutshell so far.  The Devils outplayed the Kings, but failed to get enough shots on goal, and couldn’t convert on the chances that they did get.  They had several power play chances, including a full minute of 5-on-3 time.  The Kings were able to win faceoffs, clear pucks and not allow the Devils easy access to their zone.  After the failed 5-on-3 power play, it almost seemed like the Devils were trailing, despite the scoreless tie.  They played desperate hockey at times, but simply looked frustrated and out of gas.

Los Angeles’ first goal was also a microcosm of how nothing was going the Devils’ way.  Martin Brodeur appeared to have the puck covered for several seconds mid-way through the period, but the officials failed to blow the play dead, and Dwight King ended up cashing in with the Kings’ first goal of the night.  Brodeur was visibly furious with the officials, but it didn’t matter what he thought.  It was a tough break for him, because he had made a number of big saves to that point to give his team a chance to win.  The Devils tried to press after that, and the story continued: a quality scoring chance for the Devils either broke down or was stopped by Quick.  The goaltender wasn’t tested enough, but when he was, he made the save and controlled his rebounds.  The Devils’ forecheck wore off after a while.

The Kings tacked on three more goals, including a pair on their previously defunct power play.  The Devils had absolutely no chance to make a push in the third period.  They looked frustrated, tired and a bit confused as to how this all happened.  The Kings won with a commanding 4-0  score and need to win one more game to end the Devils’ season and close out the 2011-12 NHL season.

As a fan, and I’m sure everyone feels this way to an extent, this has been an incredibly frustrating series.  The Kings are a spectacular team, in fact, they’re by far the best opponent the Devils have faced this postseason, and Jonathan Quick is by far the best goaltender in the playoffs this year, but there was certainly more the Devils could have done to this point.  They were inches away from winning Games 1 and 2, and had a chance to take a lead in Game 3, but their execution was not there and when they did get something on goal, Quick stopped it.  They haven’t been able to get pucks up enough, which is partially due to the Kings’ defense not giving them time, but also partially their own fault.

Martin Brodeur remained confident that the Devils can still get back in the series, despite the team fading late in Game 3.  Ilya Kovalchuk said the Devils would play their best game in Game 4.  It might be too little, too late, but at this point, that’s all they can do.  The Kings’ only two losses this postseason have come when they’ve been up 3-0 in a series, so at least a possibility of a Game 5 in New Jersey looms.

For the record, the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs are the only previous team to overcome a 3-0 series deficit in the Stanley Cup Finals and win.  The 2010 Flyers overcame a 3-0 deficit against the Bruins in the second round to eventually reach the Stanley Cup Finals as well.  Last postseason, Chicago and Detroit both trailed a series 3-0 and forced a Game 7, before ultimately losing in their respective Game 7’s to Vancouver and San Jose, respectively.  The Devils don’t have history in their favor, but they’re not done yet. Forcing a Game 5 would force the Kings to make a transcontinental trip to New Jersey that they probably don’t want to make, and then the Devils would have a chance to win a home game, but it starts with Game 4 on Wednesday night.  The Devils will look to avoid being swept in a series for the first time in their franchise history in New Jersey, which consists of 43 playoff series.

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Posted on June 5, 2012, in Game Recap, New Jersey Devils and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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