Anze Kopitar gives Kings OT victory
BY ADAM L. JAHNS email@example.com May 30, 2012 11:39PM
NEWARK, NJ - MAY 30: Steve Bernier #18 and Martin Brodeur #30 of the New Jersey Devils collide with Dwight King #74 of the Los Angeles Kings during Game One of the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Final at the Prudential Center on May 30, 2012 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Updated: July 6, 2012 9:32AM
NEWARK, N.J. — There was Los Angeles Kings forward Anze Kopitar streaking in all alone on New Jersey Devils goalie Martin Brodeur in the most dramatic moment of Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals at the Prudential Center on Wednesday night.
With a quick, smooth-looking move, the blossoming 24-year-old center from Slovenia quickly dispatched of arguably the best goaltender of all time and delivered for the Kings in a 2-1 overtime victory.
Just as Brodeur failed and missed his chance to prevent Kopitar from scoring on the first true breakaway of the anticipated defensive battle, it was another reminder to those teams — including the Blackhawks — that failed to draft Kopitar in 2005 and missed their chance to have a player on the verge of joining the game’s best.
“It feels great,” Kopitar said after becoming the first hero of the finals. “Anytime you get a chance to finish it off in OT and to face a world-class goaltender like Marty, it’s a really good feeling.”
It was Kopitar’s seventh goal and 16th point in 15 games this postseason. More important, it was the Kings’ ninth consecutive playoff victory on the road, extending their record.
Kopitar got his chance after a good sequence of reads by Justin Williams and Drew Doughty and as Devils defensemen Dainius Zubrus and Bryce Salvador got caught being overly aggressive.
“I saw those two on the boards battling, and I wanted to make sure I went through the middle,” said Kopitar, who was taken with the 11th pick in 2005, a few spots after the Hawks selected Jack Skille.
Of course, there were on-ice Hawks connections, too. Former Hawks grinder Colin Fraser, the Kings’ fourth-line center, scored the first goal on Brodeur (23 saves) halfway through the first period.
“It feels like that was a long time coming,” Fraser said of his first career postseason goal.
The Devils struggled to register shots on goal for most of the first 40 minutes but managed to beat Jonathan Quick (17 saves) when Anton Volchenkov’s long shot bounced off Kings defenseman Slava Voynov and in with 1:12 left in the period.
“It’s a bounce. That’s part of the game,” Quick said.
But more bounces went the Kings’ way as their unprecedented run as the eighth seed from the West continues.
When Kopitar got his, he buried it like the Kings have been burying teams this postseason with their forecheck, size, speed and goaltending.
“I yelled for the puck ... and I just was able to finish it off,” Kopitar said.