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Anze Kopitar's goal lifts Kings, 2-1, in overtime

Center scores on a breakaway 8 minutes 13 seconds into the extra period to give L.A. a 1-0 lead over New Jersey in the Stanley Cup Final.

May 30, 2012|By Lisa Dillman

NEWARK, N.J. — Dustin Penner had the best imagery, likening the arena to a Russian sauna, and Dustin Brown said the puck behaved more like a bouncing tennis ball than anything else, all greatly testing their poise and patience.

On a night that required sweat and skill, the Kings got both in a 2-1 overtime victory against the New Jersey Devils in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final on Wednesday night. Center Anze Kopitar scored on a breakaway 8 minutes 13 seconds into overtime, moving the Kings to within three victories of their first Cup in franchise history.

They are 13-2 in the playoffs and 9-0 on the road, extending their NHL record for one playoff season. Jonathan Quick recorded his 11th straight road playoff win, dating to last year, moving past Billy Smith of the New York Islanders.

The goal given up by Quick was a wild one, deflecting in off teammate Slava Voynov late in the second period to make it 1-1. The goal was credited to defenseman Anton Volchenkov.

"It's a bounce. That's part of the game," Quick said.

What took 68:13 gave the Kings their first win in the best-of-seven series, most of those minutes decidedly untidy and almost all of them sweltering at the Prudential Center.

Not only were they dealing with a different in-arena climate, but they had to try to solve a, well, different goalie. The Kings were often befuddled by the Devils' Martin Brodeur, who threw some old-school looks at them.

Until Kopitar solved Brodeur with a forehand deke, the only other Kings' player to get one past Brodeur was fourth-line forward Colin Fraser, who made it 1-0 at 9:56 of the first period.

Brodeur stopped defenseman Drew Doughty in the third period with a double-stack pad save.

"I didn't expect that at all," Doughty said. "We watched tons of video on him before the series started. We knew he was a different kind of goalie. He does things you don't see."

So does Kopitar.

But no one missed the move he put on Brodeur after the Devils got caught on a rare bad read in overtime.

Kopitar's linemate, Justin Williams, who was along the boards, hit him with an area pass, and Kopitar's uncanny skill set took over in open ice with a little assist from his memory bank.

"I went forehand," Kopitar said. "I guess that goes back a few years when, you know, we were in the shootout in L.A., and I went backhand on him. Maybe he thought I was going to do it again. Tonight I just wanted to mix it up a little bit."

Brown was asked when he thought the Kings had the game in hand and he chuckled.

"When I was laying on the ice and Kopi had the puck," he said. "It was about the only time. It happened pretty quick."

The troublesome conditions were noticeable in the arena and the puzzle of the bouncing puck hit a note with some NHL players watching on TV. Jordan Eberle of the Edmonton Oilers tweeted during the game: "Who built the square rink in New Jersey. The puck has bounced out of the one corner like 10 times."

Penner had his own take on it.

"We both saw the same thing, the way the puck bounced," he said. "I think it spent more time rolling than it did flat."

The Kings survived the desert heat of Arizona. Bring on the humidity.

"That's the first time we've had to deal with the humidity in the building," Brown said. "We played Phoenix … it's hot outside but it's pretty easy to play in that type of climate. This is a challenge for some, at least this team hasn't experienced it."

The Kings have scored first in five of their nine road playoff games, and have been ahead or tied after 20 minutes in all but two.

"Our fourth line might have been our best line tonight," Brown said. "And that's a credit to them. Our best players need to be our best players most of the time. ... Me personally, it was probably my worst game of the playoffs.

"That's why you have teammates to pick you up and our fourth line was great tonight and they got us started and weathered the storm."

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