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Devils' Adam Henrique is spot on against Kings

Rookie forward, who has a knack of getting into proper position, scores go-ahead goal for New Jersey, keeping the Devils alive in Stanley Cup Final.

June 06, 2012|By Chris Foster

Adam Henrique sat in the New Jersey Devils' locker room with only one thing on his mind Wednesday.

"Man, I'm hungry," Henrique told a team official standing next to him.

That, in short, could describe the pang of every Devils player who has been flinging pucks at Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick the last week. The Stanley Cup Final had become their hunger games.

Quick had hypnotized the Devils through three games. They snapped out of it in the third period Wednesday, getting a 3-1 victory in Game 4 at Staples Center.

Henrique's goal with 5 minutes 31 seconds left ended a 1-1 tie, as the Devils lived to be eliminated another day — maybe. The series heads east for Game 5 on Saturday with the Kings leading, 3-1.

"We wanted to make them jump on a plane and go to Jersey," goaltender Martin Brodeur said. "We had to go anyway. I'm sure they don't want to make that trip. We'll try to make them miserable."

It was Quick who had been dishing out the misery through the first three games. He gave up only two goals and made 89 consecutive saves before Patrik Elias swept in a rebound 7:56 into the third period.

It was the Devils' first lead during the series and it lasted one minute before the Kings' Drew Doughty tied the score.

That set the stage for Henrique, the 22-year-old rookie forward.

David Clarkson picked up a turnover in center ice and went into the Kings' zone. He sent a cross-ice pass to Henrique, who corralled the puck and flipped a wrist shot past Quick's glove side.

"Clarky had it at the blue and I was hoping he saw me," Henrique said. "He made a great pass. It came off my skate pretty good and was right on the tape."

Quick, Henrique said, "was going to have to come a long way to make the save if I got it on net short side."

He did.

"That was a big-time play, especially with the way Quick is playing," Devils Coach Peter DeBoer said. But, he added, "Adam has got a knack for that."

This was far from Henrique's first trip to the spotlight. He scored two goals, one in overtime, in Game 7 against the Florida Panthers to clinch a first-round series. He scored the game winner, also in overtime, in a Game 6 victory over the New York Rangers that clinched the Eastern Conference final.

"This guy deserves all those goals," Ilya Kovalchuk said. "He works so hard to be in the position to score."

Brodeur was equally impressed, saying, "His skating ability, the way he handles the puck, protects the puck, it's pretty amazing to see that at a young age."

Henrique scored 16 goals during the regular season. He has stepped up his game with four goals and 12 points in the playoffs.

"Everyone wants be in those situations, to be counted on by teammates and the coach," Henrique said. "It's nice they have trust in me to put me out there in certain times."

But, he added, "I'm just playing. I'm not thinking about what's going to happen if I score or I don't score."

chris.foster@latimes.com

twitter.com/cfosterlatimes

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