NEWARK — The New Jersey Devils realize that they didn't play their best game in their 2-1 overtime loss to the Los Angeles Kings in Game 1 on Wednesday night. From a mix of nerves and bad ice, mistakes were made and it cost them. Entering Game 2 tonight, the hope is that it's out of their systems.
"All the hoopla and all that, you can put it behind you now," said Travis Zajac. "Game 1's out of the way, now it's a series and you can just get ready and go play hockey."
"I'm sure you'll see a bit of a different game," said David Clarkson. "We're going to come out and hopefully play a little bit better game. We're going to get on the forecheck more and get around the net. We're going to do the things that got us here today to where we are."
Winning the forecheck battle is something New Jersey knew they had to do against a Kings team that excels at it. Getting pucks in deep, forcing goaltender Jonathan Quick — who was shaky handling the puck in Game 1 — to play the puck and dictating the pace will be what the Devils will try to accomplish in the first period.
New Jersey lost the opening game in their series against the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers, but rebounded with strong performances in Game 2. Meanwhile, Los Angeles has won all four of their Game 1s, and after grabbing an early series lead they played even better in winning their three Game 2s.
"It's one of those things, we've been successful in Game 1 all playoffs, and we've also come back a little bit even hungrier in Game 2 in each of the series," said Kings captain Dustin Brown. "It's important for us to understand that they're going to be better. For us to be successful we're going to have to be a lot better."
It wasn't the prettiest of hockey, but when you're playing on not-so-good ice, with a decent break in-between series for both teams, as well as the bigger magnifying glass of it being the Stanley Cup Final, that's going to happen in a Game 1. Both teams are here for a reason and that means the best hockey is yet to come.
Follow Sean Leahy on Twitter at @Sean_Leahy