The Devils played one of their worst games of the postseason in dropping the series opener 2-1 in overtime Wednesday night, and they can’t afford another sub-par effort.
The situation is desperate for coach Peter DeBoer’s team.
And if you’re a Devil, here’s a scary fact. The Kings have played some of their best hockey in Game 2s of their three previous series, beating Vancouver, St. Louis and Phoenix by a combined 13-4 margin to take acommanding 2-0 series lead back to Los Angeles each time.
Kings captain Dustin Brown said that the Darryl Sutter-coached team has done a good job of not being satisfied after winning Game 1.
“In Game 2, it’s been our starts,” Brown said. “We’ve jumped on teams early, most noticeably against St. Louis, we had a 4-0 lead after the first and that goes a long way. Some teams get a win and they are satisfied. This group hasn’t been and it goes a long way when you come out in Game 2 and really put it to them.”
The Devils have done an outstanding job of battling back from 1-0 deficits against the Flyers and Rangers. They won four straight after losing the opener in overtime against Philadelphia and four of five against the rival Rangers. This is different, though. The Kings are playing better than any team in the NHL now, posting a 13-2 postseason record.
The Devils were at their best in the opener when they got their forecheck going and cycled the puck down low in the third period. Their mistakes, however, led to chances and only a good game by Martin Brodeur kept New Jersey in it.
If there has been a key to the Kings’ record success on the road in the postseason, it might be scoring the first goal. They have only trailed for 58:08 in nine road games.
“We have been focused in on starts and our starts have been pretty good,” Kopitar said. “It always helps when you are not playing catch-up hockey. Everybody knows it is easier to play with the lead.”
True in a game ... or a series.