Fluke goal helps Devils cut Kings' series lead to 3-2

The SportsXchange

NEWARK, N.J. -- Bryce Salvador claims he's not doing anything differently in the playoffs, but after going without a single goal during the regular season, he's turned into a legitimate offensive force for the New Jersey Devils in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

"After going through 82 games without a goal, I'll take any goal I can get," said Salvador, who broke a 1-1 tie midway through the second period with a fluke goal, giving the Devils a 2-1 victory over the Los Angeles Kings in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup final Saturday night, drawing the Devils to within 3-2 in the best-of-seven series.

Game 6 is scheduled for Monday night in Los Angeles. It marked only the third time in the history of the NHL that a team that once trailed in the final by a 3-0 margin pushed the series to a Game 6 and the first time it's happened since 1945. The Devils' win also snapped a 10-game road winning streak for the Kings in the playoffs, which tied an NHL record.

Zach Parise scored his first goal of the final in the first period, giving the Devils a 1-0 lead, and Justin Williams scored in the opening stages of the second period, tying the game at 1-1.

Salvador fired a shot at 9:05 of the second period that seemed to deflect off the stick of David Clarkson, but in fact went in off Kings defenseman Slava Voynov instead.

"I think it went in off about 16 people," Salvador said. "It's a great feeling. It's just one of those things. I think my success comes from the team having success. It's not just me."

The goal gave Salvador his fourth goal and 14th point in 22 playoff games after playing all 82 regular-season games without a goal and just nine assists. He is the Devils' third leading scorer in the playoffs.

"We've been waiting for him to score all season," said Devils goalkeeper Martin Brodeur, who made 25 saves, several of which were reminiscent of when he was the top goalkeeper in the league. "I wonder where he came from. He peaked at the right time, that's for sure."

Jonathan Quick stopped 17 shots for the Kings. The Devils, playing with the lead, managed just three shots on goal in the third period.

The Kings had a chance to tie the game several times in the early stages of the third period. Former Devil Willie Mitchell's slap shot bounced high into Brodeur's chest with 19:06 left.

Then, with 14:29 left, Alec Martinez had two shots at Brodeur, one that hit the post and another that was deflected onto the top of the net, stopping play.

The Devils held off a final chance by the Kings, when Mike Richards' slap shot was deflected by Brodeur off the post with 7.6 seconds left and the Kings playing with an empty net.

The Devils broke through at 7:15 on a play entirely created by the Devils' captain. Parise sent the puck into the Kings' zone to the right of Quick, who fielded the puck. But Quick somewhat fanned on it as he tried to wrap it around the net, and an alert Parise pounced on the puck and tucked it past Quick for the 1-0 lead.

"I made not such a great pass to Patrik (Elias), but I went in after it in my normal forecheck route like I've done about a thousand times," Parise said. "I saw Quick coming out and he just happened to misplay it and put it on my stick. You have to get lucky sometimes. That was the difference. It was good to contribute and for us to get the first goal."

It was the first mistake the Kings' young goalie had made in the entire series, and it was the first goal of the final for Parise, who led the Devils with seven goals in the playoffs before facing the Kings.

Brodeur made two saves in one sequence with 2:50 remaining in the first period, protecting the Devils' 1-0 lead at the first intermission.

"I thought we survived out there," Brodeur said. "We didn't play our greatest game, but we found a way to win. We played poorly for the first period and we still had the lead. We made some key blocks to survive in this game."

The Kings wasted little time tying the game in the second period as Williams skated in alone with no defensive interference whatsoever and ripped a wrist shot that Brodeur had no prayer of stopping. It went into the high left corner of the goal, tying the game at 1-1 at 16:29 of the second period.

Brodeur then made a diving save of a breakaway attempt by Jarret Stoll with 15:30 left, and Quick countered with a save on Travis Zajac's backhand shot with 14:50 left.

The Kings thought they had tied the game when Stoll knocked in a shot during a power play, but Stoll clearly hit the puck with his stick above his head, waving off the goal with 8:43 left.

"We had a better effort against them, but it's disappointing," said Kings captain Dustin Brown. "It's difficult to handle. But we're still up 3-2 and that's all that matters. Sometimes, you're going to lose close games in the playoffs. We still have the advantage of going home with the lead in the series."

Kings coach Darryl Sutter agreed.

"They got a couple of breaks tonight and we hit a couple of posts again," Sutter said. "That's how close this series has been. I thought we had a really good first period, and you hope one of those chances goes in. The only way to look at it is that the team that scores the first goal usually wins. We need to get one early."

But the Devils feel as if they have turned the tide and put momentum in their favor.

"We knew that our season was not going to end without a fight," Zajac said. "No one gave us a chance to win Game 4. Now we've won two straight and we've given ourselves a chance to try to win one more game."

"We're right now where we want to be," Devils coach Peter DeBoer said. "We're going to put our best effort going forward. We wouldn't be here if we didn't have that desperation. We just have to win another game to keep it going. We've been pretty resilient all season long, and we believe we can win if we play the right way."

NOTES: Veteran center Petr Sykora, who created a handful of scoring chances in Game 4, was in the lineup in place of Jacob Josefson for the Devils in Game 5. Henrik Tallinder, who missed most of the last part of the regular season and most of the playoffs with a blood clot in his leg, got the nod over Peter Harrold on the defensive line for New Jersey. ... The Kings had won 10 straight playoff games on the road, tying the NHL playoff record by the 2004 Calgary Flames, a team that, ironically, was coached by Kings coach Darryl Sutter.
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