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STANLEY CUP FINAL GAME 4: NEW JERSEY 3, KINGS 1

Kings miss several chances

L.A. hits the post twice and is unable to capitalize on several breakaways in Game 4.

June 07, 2012|Mike Bresnahan

After almost 45 years of heartbreak and general unhappiness, the franchise that never won a Stanley Cup whiffed at a chance to parade one in front of their fans.

Missed opportunities. So many, many missed opportunities.

The Kings hit the post twice and failed on an estimated 7,000 breakaways in a 3-1 loss Wednesday to New Jersey in Game 4 of the Final.

They still hold a dominating 3-1 series lead, but you could almost sense their bitterness afterward at Staples Center. Game 5 is Saturday in New Jersey.

"I had my chances," Kings right wing Dustin Penner said, sighing. "It's disappointing because I was hoping to help out in that regard. It's not that often you get that many looks. Next time, hopefully I'll score."

Penner's missed chance came when he shot wide on a partial breakaway at 11:29 of the third period and the score tied at 1-1. He wasn't alone.

At 15:10 of the second period, Simon Gagne was stuffed on a partial breakaway by Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur.

"I sure would like to have another chance like that," Gagne said, drawing in his breath. "I saw something on the glove side and he had a quick pad save on it. He played well tonight."

Barely four minutes into the third period, Gagne intercepted Bryce Salvador's pass, moved down the left side and skipped a pass to Trevor Lewis, who couldn't convert, shooting just wide of the net under a skidding Brodeur.

"We're pretty happy to live another day," said Brodeur, who had 21 saves. "There's no doubt about that."

The Kings' post problems began 16:49 into the first period when Justin Williams' deflection from the slot drew iron and skipped back out. The goal light came on ever so briefly, delighting Kings fans momentarily.

A few seconds before that, Dustin Brown missed wide in a two-on-one.

Then Anze Kopitar hit the post with 25 seconds left in the first period, almost hammering home a cross-ice pass from Drew Doughty on the power play.

"We had our chances..." Brown said.

Despite the fact champagne awaited the Kings, as well as cathartic relief for their fans, Penner said Game 4 hurt "maybe a smidgen more" than their previous two playoff losses.

After all, the Kings are still 15-3 in the postseason. And not since 1942 has a team come back from a 3-0 deficit to win the Stanley Cup Final.

There's also the Kings' record-setting 10-0 mark on the road in these playoffs.

"We're not going to add more pressure than we need," Penner said. "We're going to have the same amount of pressure that we've always had, and put on ourselves, these playoffs."

The only Kings' banners on the Staples Center wall are for winning the Campbell Conference in 1993 and the Smythe Division in 1991.

It's still that way until at least Saturday, if the Kings capitalize better on their chances.

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mike.bresnahan@latimes.com

twitter.com/Mike_Bresnahan

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