NEWARK, N.J. -- Anze Kopitar scored on a breakaway goal at the 8:13 mark of the first overtime, giving the Los Angeles Kings a 2-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals Wednesday night.
The game-winning play was set up by a fine defensive play by Kings captain Dustin Brown, who won the puck off the boards, then fed the streaking Kopitar, who faked out goalie Martin Brodeur for the game winner. It was Kopitar's seventh goal of the playoffs.
It was the ninth consecutive road victory in the playoffs for the Kings and they are now 3-0 in overtime during the playoffs.
It marked the first time that Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals was decided in overtime since 2002, when the Carolina Hurricanes defeated the Detroit Red Wings, 3-2, on a goal by Ron Francis less than a minute into the extra session.
Colin Fraser scored a goal midway through the first period, his first goal of the playoffs, on a play where the Devils' defense forgot where he was. The goal came on only the second shot of the night for the Kings.
Patrik Elias scored a fluke goal in the closing minutes of the second period, deflecting the puck with his chest past Kings goalkeeper Jonathan Quick on an initial shot from Anton Volchenkov.
The Devils had two good chances in the third period. With 16:02 remaining, there was a mad scramble in front of Quick and Zach Parise got in the middle of the play. In the scrum, Parise pushed the puck into the goal with his glove and the official waved off the goal in a proper call.
With 10:02 remaining, the Devils entered the zone on a 3-on-1 break with defenseman Mark Fayne trailing the play. Fayne had a wide open goal, but shot the puck wide right of the net.
The Kings had two chances with 11:37 remaining, when Fraser had two close range backhands that he tried to stuff past Brodeur to no avail.
With 7:19 left, Brodeur made three sensational saves, two on Jeff Carter from point-blank range. The Kings registered six consecutive shots at the 40-year-old goalie and he stopped every single one.
Mike Richards had the best Los Angeles chance in the closing minutes, but his wrist shot was corralled by Brodeur. David Clarkson, who had two great chances in the first two periods, had a slap shot that Quick stopped with 28.8 seconds left in regulation, as the teams headed to overtime.
After the two teams felt each other out for the first 10 minutes of the first period, the Kings took advantage of the Devils' defense falling asleep to the left of Brodeur.
Jordan Nolan skated with the puck behind the net and spotted Fraser all alone to the left of the crease. Fraser almost went down to the ice to get off a wrist shot that somehow eluded Brodeur, a shot that the legendary net-minder most certainly wishes he had back. Defensemen Andy Greene and Fayne somehow lost sight of where Fraser was, enabling him to get off the wide open shot.
Fraser's first goal of the playoffs came at 9:56 and gave the Kings the 1-0 lead.
The Kings then got a little momentum from Fraser's goal and started to skate like the team that steamrolled the entire Western Conference in the playoffs. The Kings turned up the heat on the Devils and increased the speed of the game, but didn't get many scoring chances.
In fact, the Devils got the better of the good scoring chances from that point on in the period. David Clarkson had two excellent chances, one where he skated in alone, only to fire the shot high over the goal and a sprawling Quick with eight minutes left.
Clarkson also missed high on Quick with 1:58 remaining in the period. Travis Zajac had a shot from point blank range with 6:42 left that Quick managed to smother.
The shots were dead even at 5-5 after the first 20 minutes.
The Kings continued the pressure in the opening stages of the second period, putting four shots at Brodeur that were all stopped. The Devils could not muster a shot on goal for the first nine minutes of the second period.
Jarret Stoll of the Kings was whistled for tripping, but the Devils could do nothing with the man advantage. In fact, the Kings had the better chance, as Trevor Lewis' shorthanded attempt hit the knob of Brodeur's stick with 9:47 left in the period.
The Kings had another good chance with 7:47 remaining, when defenseman Rob Scuderi's slap shot from the blue line was stopped via a Brodeur glove save.
Dainius Zubrus went off for elbowing with 6:37, but the Devils killed off the penalty with ease, doing what they did all season long, leading the NHL with a 90 percent penalty kill.
Dustin Penner broke free on Brodeur with 3:11 left in the first, but Brodeur cut down the angle well and stopped the shot.
The Devils got the break they needed in the closing minutes of the second period. Elias started the play behind the goal and made a pass out to Anton Volchenkov. The Russian made a blind shot toward Quick and the rebound bounced high off Elias' chest past Quick for the game-tying goal at 18:48.
The Kings almost got a gift goal in the closing seconds, when Stoll fired a bouncing shot toward Brodeur that he stopped with his blocking pad, but the puck bounced up and Brodeur had to snare it out of mid-air with five seconds left.
The game remained 1-1 at the second intermission.
NOTES: One thing has been guaranteed already. An American-born captain will take hold of the Stanley Cup from NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman at the close of the series. Either Kings captain Dustin Brown, a New York native, or Devils captain Zach Parise, a Minneapolis native, will collect the Cup. It marks the first time that two American native captains have squared off in the Stanley Cup Finals and it will be the first time since Derian Hatcher of Dallas won the Cup in 1999. ...Veteran Petr Sykora was once again a healthy scratch for the Devils, replaced by Jacob Josefson. ... A slice of irony: Devils F Ilya Kovalchuk almost signed with the Kings two years ago, forcing the Devils to up their offer to Kovalchuk to over $100 million. Kovalchuk almost signed for seven years and $84 million from the Kings.