NEWARK, N.J. — When the New Jersey Devils fell behind the Los Angeles Kings three games to none in the Stanley Cup Final, the series looked to be over. But after the Game 3 loss, goaltender Martin Brodeur spoke up.
“He was so calm and just telling everybody that we can still it get done,” defenseman Mark Fayne said. “When you hear it from a guy like that, you really believe it.”
Even if the Devils didn’t really believe it then, they are now after a 2-1 victory in Game 5 on Saturday night at Prudential Center that forced a return trip to California and kept this season alive.
“We feel good. I mean, we’re back in this thing now,” said captain Zach Parise, who scored his first goal of the Final. “We’re making it a series. We’re making it interesting.”
New Jersey coach Peter DeBoer contends that he didn’t think the series was that lopsided, even when his team was in a 3-0 hole. Two of those first three games were decided in overtime.
But it looked painfully obvious that the Kings were skating on a different plane, and it looked like they would roll down Imperial Highway with the first title in franchise history. Not so fast.
Game 4 was the Devils staving off elimination. Game 5 was a chance to prove something.
“We’re still alive. We have a chance. It’s not a difficult thing to get yourself ready for games like that,” said Brodeur, who finished with 25 saves. “Now it’s been two in a row. It drains you a lot. It takes a lot out of you. But it’s worth it.”
Just keep plugging away has worked for the Devils. Perhaps it’s possible that the bounces that weren’t going their way earlier in the series are simply starting to now.
“A bounce here or there. It’s weird this time of year. If we get one early in one of those earlier games, in 2, 3 or 4 there, who knows what the outcome is. It’s behind us,” defenseman Andy Greene said. “We try to stick with our game here and just keep pushing. You never know what’s going to happen.”
It was hard after Game 3 to know that this was going to happen. New Jersey is just the third team in Cup Final history to force a Game 6 after facing a 3-0 deficit, and the first since 1945.
While momentum in a playoff series is often overblown, planting the seed of doubt for the Kings was another byproduct of this victory.
“Elimination games, they’re going to have four of them, or hopefully have four of them. It definitely can wear on you if the first one doesn’t go your way,” Fayne said. “Tonight was such a close game that hopefully they start to doubt themselves.”
Even though Los Angeles coach Darryl Sutter said there’s no extra pressure on his team now that the series is shifting back to Staples Center on Monday, there are certainly more people believing now that this is a series.
“We always believe. That’s why we’re here. We don’t have anybody who quit or said we can’t do it,” Devils forward Ilya Kovalchuk said. “We just take one game, one shift at a time and we got out there and try to play our best game.”
If New Jersey’s best game happens Monday, the Cup will rack up 3,000 more miles on a flight back to Newark for Game 7. But that’s not something the Devils are letting themselves think of just yet.
“That’s all we can do right now is just keep fighting and just worry about Monday,” Greene said. “We’re prepared. It’s exciting. It’s a good feeling, obviously, instead of packing it in. That’s all we have left. That’s all we can do right now.”