LOS ANGELES – The Stanley Cup is back in its crate. The Los Angeles Kings still can’t get their hands on it for the first time.
The New Jersey Devils’ remarkable rookie and their 40-year-old goalie have sent this series home.
Adam Henrique scored the tiebreaking goal with 4:29 to play, Martin Brodeur made 21 saves, and New Jersey beat Los Angeles 3-1 on Wednesday night to avoid a sweep in the Stanley Cup finals.
Patrik Elias and Ilya Kovalchuk also scored third-period goals for the Eastern Conference champion Devils, who forced the NHL to pack up the Cup for another cross-country trip. Game 5 is Saturday night in Newark, N.J.
“It’s a tough situation, but we live another day,” Brodeur said. “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 here.”
The Kings have won all 10 of their road playoff games this spring and 12 straight overall – both NHL postseason records. But after never trailing in the Stanley Cup finals, the Kings never led in Game 4.
“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 been in this situation now four times in the playoffs, and we’ve always come back with a big rebound game.”
After two tense, scoreless periods in front of fans hoping to see the Kings win their first title in their 45-year history, Elias scored on a rebound with 12:04 to play – but Drew Doughty scored a tying power-play goal for the Kings 1:02 later.
Henrique then scored his third enormous goal of the postseason, taking a pass from David Clarkson and rocketing a wrist shot past Jonathan Quick, the Kings’ nearly unbeatable goalie. The Calder Trophy finalist ended two of the Devils’ first three playoff series with overtime goals, and he kept New Jersey alive with his latest.
“That’s probably the best feeling I’ve ever had in my whole career,” said Clarkson, who took the questionable penalty that led to Doughty’s goal. “I saw (Henrique) coming, so I got it to him, and the shot was incredible.”
Quick stopped 21 shots for the Kings, but lost his streak of nearly 139 shutout minutes right when he probably could have wrapped up the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP.
The Kings had allowed just one third-period goal in their previous nine games.
Kovalchuk added an empty-netter that sent fans streaming forlornly out into a warm evening in Southern California – and put the Devils back on their plane with a chance.
“We stayed alive,” said Elias, who has two of the Devils’ five goals in the series. “Marty had to work hard, but he gave us a chance.
“All we’ve got to do it keep playing hard.”