Kings top line ends game 1 in OT, 2-1
Heading into overtime in game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals, the Kings knew one of their captains needed to step up.
Assistant captain Anze Kopitar, one of the Kings core, took a crisp pass from Justin Williams past two Devils defenders, deked net minder Martin Brodeur and put the puck just Brodeur's right leg, lifting the Kings to the franchises first Stanley Cup victory since game 1 of the 1993 Cup Finals.
It was the type of performance the Kings have gotten the entire postseason: a relative unknown stepping up.
Colin Fraser took a perfect pass from Jordan Nolan and wristed the puck past Brodeur for the games first goal midway through the first period.
After that, both teams jockeyed for position as their respective net minders, Brodeur and Kings Jonathan Quick traded saves until Anton Volchenkov was credited with the Devils lone goal after it bounced off a Kings chest before knuckling past Quick to knot the game at 1.
A gimme-goal, if you will, the Devils got a break and the Kings defense knew it made an error keeping the Devils in the game, especially the crowd.
But both goalies, as expected, stepped up huge in the 3rd, turning away attempt after attempt until Kopitar outworked two Devils at the blue line, put them behind him and showed everyone tuning in what the Slovenian was capable of.
Kopitar is just part of the Kings original core management was stern on keeping in the organization.
Linemate Dustin Brown, defenseman Drew Doughty and Quick are all the core pieces Dean Lombardi brought it to lead the once bankrupt franchise to hockeys highest stage.
It may just be one game, but these Kings are now three games from delivering hockey's biggest prize to what many who play in L.A. call the best fans in hockey.
Those fans have been through a lot since the Gretzky years, especially with the uncertainty when the Bruce McNall era was running itself out of town and just 14 playoff wins in the 17 playoff appearances it made after the 1992-93 season.
But Kings fans know not to get ahead of themselves.
Brodeur (23 saves) is one of the greatest goalkeepers in NHL history, and it looks as though the Devils play nearly the same style of hockey. But it appears the shifty Quick (17 saves) is ready for the limelight himself.
It's possible that Quick, a product of East Coast hockey (played college at UMass-Amherst) emulated Brodeur's style growing up.
Quick was Team USA's backup to Tim Thomas during the 2010 Olympivs while Brodeur backed up Roberto Luongo. Coincidentally enough, both those goalies faced off in last year's Stanley Cup Final. (Boston took home Lord Stanley's Cup in a seven-game series over Vancouver).
The Kings have followed the footsteps of their Stanley Cup predecessors of '92-93, and will make sure no illegally curved sticks find their way into the stick bags.
Game 2 is slated for 5 p.m. Saturday in New Jersey, and the Kings will look to push their playoff road mark to 10-0 before the series shifts to Staples Center and Los Angeles.
Nick has been a Kings fan for over 20 years, attending his first Kings game at the Great Western Forum at the end of the 1995-96 season and following hockey all the while, especially grinding through the lockout that canceled an entire season during the 2000's.
Photo courtesy of the New York Daily News