The Cup was all polished up and ready to be hoisted by a new 'King,' but the New Jersey Devils weren't ready to go down easy.
In a game that was scoreless entering the third quarter, the Devils swooped in and got the 3-1 victory on Wednesday, extending the series to at least a Game 5. The series will head back to Jersey on Saturday, with L.A. up 3-1.
Adam Henrique scored the big go-ahead goal for New Jersey with just 4:29 to play. His teammate, Martin Brodeur, was even more clutch, making 21 saves. Brodeur, who made more than one acrobatic play to keep the puck from going into the back of the net, still isn't giving up on the idea of a dramatic series comeback.
"You know, I think we wanted to make them jump on a plane and come to New Jersey," Brodeur said. "We had to go anyway. Might as well get a game over there."
Patrick Elias and Ilya Kovalchuk knocked in third-period goals. But it was Henrique's clutch shot — shortly following the Kings' Drew Doughty power play goal that tied up the game 1-1 — that pushed the momentum back to New Jersey.
"It's fun. This is where every kid dreams of playing one day," Henrique said. "We know it's going to be a tough task to come back, (but) there's no quit in the group in here. We know we can do it. We know we can put four together and come back."
His teammate, Elias, is showing the same positive disposition.
"We stayed alive," said Elias, who has two of the Devils' five goals in the series. "Marty had to work hard, but he gave us a chance. All we've got to do is keep playing hard."
If one thing is for certain, it's that the Kings are comfortable on the road. They've won all 10 of their road playoff games this spring and 12 straight dating back to last season — both NHL records. Also, another fun stat to comfort Kings fans, L.A. took a 3-0 lead in all four of their playoff series' this year, but failed three times to close out their opponents in Game 4. Vancouver and Phoenix also won Game 4, forcing the series to a Game 5.
And then there's of course the realism that only four teams in the history of hockey have come back from 0-3 playoff series deficits.
If history repeats itself, expect a new King to be crowned on Saturday night in Devils territory.
Josh Helmuth is the editor for CraveOnline Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @JHelmuth or subscribe at Facebook.com/CraveOnlineSports.
Photo Credit: AP