The resilient New Jersey Devils remained alive in the Stanley Cup championship by edging the Los Angeles Kings 2-1 on Saturday behind the brilliant play of veteran netminder Martin Brodeur.
Brodeur turned aside 25 shots, many of them of the jaw-dropping variety, to help the Devils extend the series to Game Six at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Monday.
New Jersey still trails the best-of-seven series 3-2 and remains one loss away from handing the Kings their first championship since entering the league in 1967, but suddenly there is hope for the Devils, who appeared dead in the water after losing the first three games of the series.
"We're still alive. We have a chance," the 40-year-old Brodeur said after his 17th career victory in the NHL Finals.
"It's not a difficult thing to get yourself ready for games like that. Now it's been two in a row. It drains you a lot.
"It takes a lot out of you. But it's worth it. At the end of the day, that's what the guys are concentrating on, getting themselves ready, leave everything out there.
"We'll see where everything's going to fall."
Zach Parise scored a powerplay goal in the opening period, giving the Devils a 1-0 lead and igniting the crowd of 17,625. The score was the Devils' first with a man-advantage in the series, ending an 0-for-15 slump.
Parise scored after Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick left the crease and misplayed a puck that bounced off the end boards and out toward the net. The Devils captain jammed it home as a sprawling Quick could not recover in time.
"Saw Quick go out of the net," Parise said. "Went on the normal forecheck route that I've gone on a thousand times this year. He just happened to misplay it and put it on my stick.
"You got to get lucky sometimes."
Three minutes into the second period, the Kings' Justin Williams brought the puck over the blue line on the right side and shuffled over to the middle of the ice. He then fired a high shot that eluded Brodeur, who was badly screened, to tie the score at 1-1.
Devils defenceman Bryce Salvador scored the game winner midway through the second period when his slapshot ricocheted off Kings defenseman Slava Voynov and into the net.
The loss was the Kings' first on the road during the postseason after 10 straight wins. They now head home to the Staples Center, where they are 5-3 in the postseason.
Kings coach Darryl Sutter said Parise's goal was crucial.
"Whoever scores the first goal, that's the way it's been," he said.
"We scored the first goal in the first three. That tells you just really how close it is."
The Devils lost the first two games of the series by identical 2-1 scores in overtime on their home ice. Brodeur tipped his cap to the fans for sticking by the team.
"We've worked extremely hard the last two games to stay alive in this series and definitely it was nice tonight the support we got from our own building," he said.
"We lost our first two games of this series in our building and our fans deserve a little better than that. We had a great effort today and we're moving on to the next game now."
Brodeur hopes the Devils can become just the second team, and first in 70 years, to recover from a 3-0 deficit in the finals and win the Cup.
"We wanted to create some doubt in their mind," said Brodeur, a three-time Stanley Cup winner.
"Definitely for them to have to come back to New Jersey was tough, winning a game like that is tough and we are going to try to make it hard on them.
"Winning the Cup is not an easy thing to do and we are not going to give up."
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|Timothy V. Gatto|