The Kings visited New Jersey for the first time in four years. The Devils entered the contest fresh off of a loss against the New York Rangers the night before. New Jersey’s current record has been dismal, as they’ve recorded five home losses in their last seven games. The Devils fell into third place in the division after the Rangers’ loss, but they were able to pick up momentum and a couple more points from the visiting Kings as they came away the victors in the Saturday night match-up, 6-3, all thanks to a pair of unlikely goal-scorers.
With just 4:43 into the first period, David Clarkson brought the puck into the Kings’ zone. Using Brad Stuart as a screen, he delivered a snapshot through the five-hole of LaBarbera and scored the first goal of the game for the Devils, his sixth goal of the season. The LA Kings were not pleased with Clarkson’s goal and decided to launch an attack on Clarkson at 6:14 as Raitis Ivanans brought the Devils’ bad boy down to the ice, swinging punches. Three linesmen had to pull Ivanans, a man much bigger than the young rookie, from the scrap.
In the middle stanza, an incredible effort by the Devils’ offense to keep the puck in the Kings’ zone, created an opportunity for Patrik Elias to send a wrist-shot through LaBarbera, scoring the second goal of the night at 2:30, his fifteenth goal of the season. Brian Boyle, who was called up by the LA Kings today from their minor league team, had just made it to the game during the first period to make his first NHL debut. At 8:38 he scored his first NHL career goal on Martin Brodeur. Mere seconds later, Devils defenseman Karel Rachunek scored a quick wrist shot at 9:53, giving the Devils back their two-goal lead, his second goal of the season.
Boyle followed up his goal with an assist on Jack Johnson’s goal at 12:57, the Kings’ second goal of the game. At 13:30, John Madden’s face-off win brought the puck back to defenseman Colin White, who ripped a slapshot towards LaBarbera, which ricocheted off the bar and into the net, his first goal of the season. A pile-up in front of the Kings’ net led to a goal by Travis Zajac with just 4.4 seconds left in the period, giving the Devils a 5-2 lead over LA.
White’s goal was a great turnaround for the defenseman, who committed a horrible turnover that led to a Rangers’ goal the night before. This also brought an end to his incredibly long scoring drought: his last goal was scored on February 7, 2006 against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
In the third period, at 2:26 Ivanans tried to start another scrap with Clarkson, but Mike Rupp decided to step-in and challenge Ivanans in Clarkson’s stead This showed Rupp’s great camaraderie, sticking up for the young rookie, who was so much smaller than Ivanans.
As the period moved on in the final minutes, a slapshot from Lubomir Visnovsky at 14:57 gave the Kings their third goal, his sixth goal of the season. Sergei Brylin answered moments later with the Devils’ sixth goal of the game at 16:43, his fifth goal of the season, ending the game, 6-3.
The Devils host the Pittsburgh Penguins on Monday night. The race in the Atlantic Division is very close, with the Flyers, Penguins, Devils and Rangers all within a point of each other. The Devils need to defeat the second place Penguins to advance ahead and sink Pittsburgh into third place.